MIAA Freshman of the Year Caleb Palensky went 2-for-4 with a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Nebraska Omaha to a 9-2 victory over Emporia State Saturday afternoon at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Cory Buckley pitched a complete game for UNO, allowing just two runs on 10 hits and striking out three to get the win.
The Mavericks got on the board first when Jed Hanson hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning, scoring Mark Waldron. Two innings later, Emporia State would answer and take its first lead of the game.
In the top of the third, Joe Kornbrust scored on a Jacob White single to tie the game at 1-1, and Andy Cotton followed that with an RBI single of his own to score White and give the Hornets the 2-1 advantage.
It didn’t take long for UNO to even the score, as Hanson doubled to left center to drive in his second run of the game in the bottom of the third.
Afterscoreless fourth and fifth innings, the sixth inning proved to be the decisive frame.
Nebraska Omaha pushed across three runs (all of them unearned due to four ESU errors) on two hits to take a 5-2 lead, and the Mavericks didn’t look back.
The game was still in reach for Emporia State heading into the bottom of the eighth, but singles by Brandon Winkelmann, Martin Sartin, and Brady Hohl loaded the bases and set the stage for Palensky. The freshman hit a shot down the left fieldline and off the foul pole to give UNO a 9-2 advantage and effectively end the game.
Starter Jake Hosey went 5.2 innings for Emporia State, giving up five hits and five runs(two earned) while striking out three.
With the win, Nebraska Omaha advances to Sunday’s championship game against Central Missouri at 1 p.m. UNO must win two games to earn the title, while UCM needs just one win. The second game will begin approximately 30 minutes after theconclusion of the first game, if necessary.