TULSA, Okla. – Top-seeded Omaha baseball secured a 15-9 win over No. 4 Western Illinois on the opening day of The Summit League Championship Wednesday afternoon at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
For the first time in program history, the Mavericks secured a Summit League postseason win via 13 team hits. The Mavericks improved to 29-21-1 overall and advance in the winner’s bracket, while Western Illinois now faces elimination after dropping to 22-29.
LEADERS FOR OMAHA
Payton Kinney continued his stellar season as he improved to 10-1 on the season with six shutout innings on four strikeouts, three hits and two walks allowed. WIU’s Javin Drake fell to 7-6 on the season with four strikeouts, 11 runs (10 earned), four walks and nine hits allowed.
At the plate, a quartet of Mavericks notched two-hit performances in Parker Smejkal, Ben Palensky, Thomas DeBonville and Breyden Eckhout. Smejkal had two RBI on two doubles, while Palensky had a three-shot homer.
INSIDE THE INNINGS
Omaha struck early in the bottom of the second on a pair of single-RBI from DeBonville and Jack Lombardi that scored three runs. Palensky’s three-run shot to left field in the bottom of the third vaulted the Mavericks to a 6-0 lead. Two more runs in the fourth by Smejkal’s double and Brett Bonar’s sacrifice fly made it 8-0 Omaha.
In the bottom of the fifth, a WIU error and a Krumwiede single plated two more and increased the Mavericks’ lead at 11-0. WIU found the scoreboard in the top of the seventh on two RBI-singles. Omaha, however, kept its foot on the gas pedal and plated four more in the bottom of the eighth on Eckhout’s single, a bases-loaded walk and Bonar’s double to right center.
The Leathernecks rallied late in the ninth with a seven-run inning, but the gap was too wide as the Mavericks were able to close out the game with the six-run win, 15-9.
The Summit League postseason win marks Omaha’s first in program history.
Kinney’s 10 wins this season tie Tyler Fox (10-2, 2016) for the most in program history for the Division I era.
Kinney is now one-win shy of tying Barry Miller (1962) and Chris Kessinger (2008) for the most in program history for a single season. He is also a win shy of tying for eighth-all time in league history for wins in a season.
Kinney’s career 93 strikeouts tie for eighth all-time in program history.
The senior’s six scoreless innings mark his third-career shutout, which ties for third all-time in program history.
Omaha will play the winner of No. 2 South Dakota State and No. 3 Oral Roberts. The Mavericks return to action on Friday at 11:00 a.m.