UNO’s regular-season finale played out much like its game on the previous day.
The Mavericks (28-21-1) spotted Oral Roberts five early runs again Saturday at Seymour Smith Park. This time they rallied to take a short-lived lead before falling short in a 13-9 Senior Day loss.
The Golden Eagles (26-24) used a five-run sixth inning to surge past the Summit League champions and claim the weekend series. It was UNO’s fourth straight series loss and its fifth in the last six weekends.
“We did the same thing two days in a row,” UNO coach Evan Porter said. “We got in a hole early and battled back. The guys did a great job of responding. But (ORU) just kept it going by us keeping them in the game by walking guys. We walked too many guys. It started in the first inning and kept lingering.”
UNO issued 11 free passes to the Summit’s third-place team Saturday. Seven of those turned into runs.
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Starter Spencer Koelewyn, who has struggled to find the strike zone of late, walked four of the first nine batters he faced and was lifted after Jake McMurray’s RBI double in the second inning. The Mavs used four relievers the rest of the way. And all of them walked at least one batter and all also gave up runs.
Fortunately for them, UNO’s big offensive weekend continued. The Mavs, who hit below .200 in their previous 12 games before Thursday’s series opener, collected 11 hits in Saturday’s finale. Thomas DeBonville recorded four of them and Grant Suponchick had two, including a two-run homer in the fifth.
UNO scored three in that inning to move in front 7-6. But six straight Golden Eagles reached base against Suponchick and fellow senior reliever Cal Henhke in the sixth. Trevor McCutchin’s two-run single put Oral Roberts back in front 9-7. The Golden Eagles tacked on two more that inning and led from then on.
The Mavs got a solo homer from Parker Smejkal and an RBI single from Keil Krumwiede in the final four innings. But they left runners on base in each of the final three innings while dropping a second straight.
Still, Porter was pleased to see UNO’s bats come around with postseason play beginning on Wednesday.
“It’s good to see our offense going now,” he said. “Our team can swing it. They proved it this weekend. It’s good to see that flip right before tourney time when it really counts.”
The top-seeded Mavs will meet Western Illinois, which claimed the final tournament spot with a win on Saturday, in the opening round at noon Wednesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Third-seeded Oral Roberts, which has won the tourney the last 19 times it has been in it, will then face South Dakota State at 6 p.m. that day.
UNO has lost its last two games to all three of the other teams in the tourney, including the final two to the Golden Eagles this weekend. Porter indicated that those final results will have no impact next week.
“We just got off to a rocky start and couldn’t really stop their momentum, offensively,” he said. “When we did get ahead, they responded. A lot of walks scored today. It’s not a concern. The pitching staff has proven, throughout this year, what they’re capable of doing. I expect them to come out next week.”