The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks scored three times in the top of the ninth after Central Missouri rallied to tie the game in the eighth to defeat the 11th-ranked Mules, 12-9, and win the MIAA Baseball Championship Tournament Sunday afternoon (May 10) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
The Mavericks (40-18) earned the MIAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Tournament, the site to be announced along with the rest of the teams in the field later Sunday.
UNO held a 9-3 lead after a five-run fifth inning and a two-run sixth. The big blows in that strctch included a lead-off homer in the fifth by senior SS Evan Porter — his ninth of the season and 42nd of his Mavericks career — and a two-run double later in the frame by freshman RF Brett Keohn.
The Mules (41-13) answered by scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out single to right-center by senior LF Will Feil, which allowed freshman SS Bret Schwartz to score all the way from first.
Junior C Matt LaGree greeted UNO reliever, sophomore LHP Tom Schmidt, with a homer to lead off the seventh. UCM then loaded the bases for lead-off hitter, junior CF Chance Tuttle. Schmidt induced a fielder’s choice groundout to shortstop which allowed a run to score and cut the gap to 9-6.
The Mules found themselves facing a two-out situation in the eighth with a runner on second, but UNO’s third hurler of the game, freshman RHP Joe Holtmeyer (7-4), allowed sophomore 1B Eric Cole to sneak a single through the left side of the infield — leaving runners at the corners for junior DH Stewart Hoover.
Hoover fell behind in the count, 1-2, before taking an offering from Holtmeyer nearly 400 feet into the Mules’ bullpen in left-centerfield and knotting the game at 9-9.
UCM had a chance for more, with sophomore 3B Colin Murphy singling to right and sophomore 2B Cory Deedrick drawing a walk. Holtmeyer was able to keep the score even by striking out Tuttle on three pitches.
With one out in the top of the ninth, junior 2B Andrew Hansen extended his MIAA single-season record by hitting his 32nd double of the season and second of the game. Porter then sent a single up the middle that broke the tie and snapped a string of 27 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched by UCM senior RHP Chris Matlock (4-2).
Senior DH Drew Schwab then gave UNO some breathing room with a two-run four-bagger to rightfield to cap a 5-for-6 day at the plate. It was the first home run the MIAA Pitcher of the Year had given up in 43 innings this season. Matlock settled down and and recorded the final two outs of the frame.
Holtmeyer needed only five pitches to wrap up the title, getting a first-pitch pop out, a three-pitch strikeout and a foul out to the catcher.
Every starter for both teams recorded a hit, as the two squads combined for 37 in the game (22 for the Mavs, 15 for the Mules). Schwab drove in three and scored twice for UNO on his five hits. Hansen, Porter and senior 1B Mat Eikmeier each had three hits for the Mavericks, while Koehn was 2-for-4 with three RBI.
Sophomore RF Jon Wegener was 3-for-5 for Central Missouri with a double — Schwartz, LaGree, Cole and Hoover each had two hits for the Mules.