TULSA, Okla. – Omaha baseball stayed five games ahead in first place as the team split the opening day of the series against Oral Roberts Friday, April 12.
The Golden Eagles rallied in game one and handed the Mavericks their first loss of The Summit League season. After being up 6-1 in the seventh, Omaha squandered the lead and saw ORU win 8-7 on a walk-off single.
The Mavericks bounced back and won 4-2 behind Payton Kinney’s pitching and an eighth-inning home run from Parker Smejkal. Omaha’s game two victory also marked the program’s first-ever in against Oral Roberts in Tulsa.
It was a pitcher’s duel as neither team found the pentagon until the top of the fifth. In the inning, Omaha loaded the bases with no outs on a leadoff single from Ben Palensky, a double from Smejkal and Thomas DeBonville was walked.
In the bottom of the fifth, ORU recorded a one-out triple. The Mavericks, once again, loaded the bases in the top of the sixth with one out. Eckhout stepped up and lined a single over the shortstop’s head that brought home Smejkal and DeBonville for a 5-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Omaha found itself in a hectic spot as the Golden Eagles loaded the bases with two outs. The Mavericks, however, were able to get out of the jam with a fly out to Lombardi. Omaha increased its lead to 6-1 with a two-out homer by Palensky that soared over the left field wall for his first of the season.
Later on in the bottom of the seventh, ORU cut the Omaha lead to two with a three-run homer over left center. The Mavericks’ seventh run came in the top of the eighth. Gamm singled then stole second, which brought up Eckhout. The junior grounded to third but the throw sailed over the first baseman’s head, which scored Gamm.
The lead dwindled back to two on a Golden Eagle RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth. The lead finally fell to just one after ORU doubled for another RBI with just one out.
Later on in the bottom of the ninth, ORU loaded the bases with one out. A walk-off single to right field sealed the 8-7 win for the Golden Eagles and handed Omaha its first league loss of the season.
Kinney improved to 7-0 and tied his career-best of 11 strikeouts for the second time through 8.0 innings of work. The only home run he allowed was a solo shot homer in the eighth and he also allowed just one walk. Jackson Gordon came in and notched his fourth save of the season, while Matt Gaskins fell to 2-3 on the season.
Neither side could find the pentagon until the eighth inning. After Grant Suponchick doubled to center, Jack Lombardi came in to pinch run. Keil Krumwiede notched an RBI single that scored Lombardi for the first run of the game.
In came Smejkal, who delivered once again with his fourth home run in six games that scored three and gave Omaha a 4-0 lead. Oral Roberts stayed on Omaha’s heels in the last two innings, as Kinney’s only run allowed was a homer to left field. Later on in the ninth, Gordon’s first pitch was another ORU home run to right field. The freshman, however, was able to close out the game and notch the save. The victory also marked Omaha’s first at Tulsa in program history.
Omaha and Oral Roberts square off for the series finale tomorrow at 2 p.m.