Senior Marcus Ethen and the Mavericks visit Iowa Tuesday night before a three-game series at South Dakota State Thursday...
Courtesy: Omaha Athletics

Mavericks Cap Regular Season at Iowa, SDSU

Omaha Athletics | May 15, 2017
Leading Off
The Omaha baseball team caps the regular season this week, beginning Tuesday, May 16 with its final non-conference game at Iowa. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City, Iowa, and the game will be broadcast live on BTN Plus and BTN2Go. The Mavericks then close with a three-game series at South Dakota State, May 18-20, at Erv Huether Field in Brookings, S.D. First pitch on Thursday is at 3 p.m., followed by 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Live stats, audio and video, as available, will be linked on

Quick Hits
•Sam Murphy's next mound appearance will give him Omaha's all-time career record in the category at 64.
•Sam Palensky saw his career-long 25-game reaching base streak expire April 18 at Air Force. It was the longest streak of any UNO player this year and the longest of any Maverick since Clayton Taylor (32) in 2016. Palensky now carries the long active reaching base streak on the team at 13 games.
•Ryan Cate saw his career-long reaching base streak come to an end last weekend at 19 games.
•Since assuming a starting role at shortstop on April 23, Jack Kalina has compiled a .514 slugging percentage with a team-leading seven doubles while scoring six runs scored and driving in five more.
•Riley Herold returned to the starting lineup for the first time since April 28 with his Saturday start in left field at Oral Roberts. On Sunday, Herold tied game at 5-5 in the top of the ninth with a first-pitch, two-run single to center.
•Eight of the Mavericks' 12 wins this season have come on the road.
•The Mavericks put down a season-high five sacrifice bunts April 23 in their win at North Dakota State.
•Twenty-eight players have seen playing time this season.
•Omaha played a three-game series at No. 6 Louisville Feb. 24-26, marking the highest-ranked opponent Omaha has faced in the Division I era.
•UNO returned 19 letterwinners this year, including six position players with starting experience: Palensky, Cate, Kalina, Herold, Grant Suponchick and Adam Caniglia.
•Cate is the Mavericks' lone returning All-Summit selection.
•UNO was picked fourth in the Summit League Preseason Coaches' Poll for the second straight season. In 2016, the Mavericks went on to finish as the league's regular-season runner-up.
•Omaha is 265-314 all-time against all opponents on the schedule this year and 154-142 all-time against the five other teams in the Summit League. The Mavericks have compiled a 74-61 record in Summit League play since 2013.

Scouting the Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa enters the week with a record of 31-18 (13-8 Big Ten). The Hawkeyes won two of three in a home series with Ohio State last weekend, triumphing 9-5 on Friday and 11-10 on Sunday with a 12-7 loss on Saturday.

Head coach Rick Heller is in his fourth season at Iowa, carrying a record of 132-85 and a career mark of 822-650-4 over 30 years.

Tuesday marks the 13th meeting all-time between Omaha and Iowa, and the Hawkeyes lead the all-time vs. Omaha, 7-5. The two teams last met March 11, 2016 at the Perfect Game Spring Swing in Emerson, Ga., with the Mavericks taking a 3-2 win.

Scouting the South Dakota State Jackrabbits
South Dakota State enters the weekend with a record of 22-22 (15-12 Summit League). The Jackrabbits are on a five-game win streak, having swept a three-games series at Fort Wayne last weekend, 12-3, 11-2 and 10-5.

Head coach Rob Bishop is in his first season at SDSU, carrying a record of 22-22 and a career mark of 156-175-1 over seven years.

Thursday marks the 146th meeting all-time between Omaha and South Dakota State, and the Mavericks lead the series, 80-65. The two teams last met March 17-19 at Seymour Smith Park, with SDSU sweeping the weekend series, 5-2, 15-0 in seven innings and 13-4.

Leading the League
Freshman Cole Thibodeau ranks sixth nationally and leads the Summit League with 14 sacrifice hits. Senior Sam Palensky is first for hit-by-pitches (11), senior Sam Murphy leads all league pitchers for games started (13), and junior Corey Binger is first for complete games (three).
As a team, Omaha is 10th in the country and the league's top squad for sac bunts (48).

Maverick Mound Notes
•Omaha used 11 pitchers May 9 vs. Creighton, and its 10 relievers tied for the fourth-most in a Division I game in NCAA history.
•As a staff, Omaha is better on the bump in league play, having lowered its ERA to 5.82 from 8.29 in non-conference.
•Maverick hurlers have issued 172 strikeouts in league play, which leads the conference.
•Junior right-hander Payton Kinney picked up three straight wins from April 19 to May 6. Over 15 appearances and 46.1 innings pitched, opposing hitters are batting just .197 against him.
•Senior left-hander Sam Murphy leads the Summit League for games started (13) and is third for strikeouts (65). Junior right-hander Corey Binger is first for complete games (three) and second for shutouts (one).

More on Mallott
Sophomore Nate Mallott was on fire in the last two weekends of league play, batting .417 in series with Fort Wayne and Oral Roberts. The Omaha native has driven in a team-leading eight runs over the six games with four multi-hit games and a .625 slugging percentage.

Against the Mastodons, Mallott hit .429 with three straight multi-hit efforts. He tallied two doubles, a home run, a walk, three runs scored and six RBI, and his walkoff single in the bottom of the 13th drove in the game-winning run in the Friday opener.

Last weekend in Tulsa, Mallott continued with a .400 plate showing. He drove in a pair of runs in the top of the ninth in the Sunday finale, which put Omaha on the board and sparked a five-run inning to tie the game at 5-5.

Suponchick vs. the Summit League
Sophomore Grant Suponchick has batted a team-leading .321 against Summit League competition, up from .224 in non-conference games. In those 25 league contests, the Papillion, Neb., native has posted four doubles, two home runs, 10 runs scored, 12 RBI and 11 walks. He also has eight mound appearances and a pair of saves in league play.

Palensky On the Move
After starting all 56 games at second base as a junior, senior Sam Palensky made a switch in his 2017 campaign. Palensky had the starting nod at shortstop for the first 35 games of the season, started the next 12 at third base and filled in at second base on Sunday at Oral Roberts.

At the plate, the Papillion, Neb., native owns a team-leading 14 multi-hit performances and reached base in 25 straight contests from March 3 - April 16. Over the last seven games, he has hit .357 with two doubles, a team-high nine runs scored and two RBI.

Climbing the Career Charts
Senior left-hander Sam Murphy entered the year ranked 10th in school history with 48 mound appearances and has now climbed up to a tie for the all-time record in the category with 63 appearances. He ranks alongside Brandon Dahl (2006-10), who also had 63. Murphy has also faced 871 batters in his career -- the seventh-most of any Maverick -- and is ninth for innings pitched (193.1). He entered the top 10 for strikeouts last weekend, tying for 10th on the list with 170.

Murph on the Mound
Left-handed pitcher Sam Murphy is the veteran of Omaha's pitching staff, as the fifth-year senior is the Mavericks' active career leader for appearances (63), innings pitched (193.1) and strikeouts (170). Murphy was named Summit League Pitcher of the Week for the second time in his career on March 27 after throwing a seven-inning complete game for his first win of the season, shuttering a career-high 16 batters. The mark set Omaha's Division I record and was the most single-game strikeouts since Joe Holtmeyer in 2010.

Last year, the Lake Worth, Fla., native went 4-6 with one save and a 3.86 ERA and held his opponents to a .254 average. Murphy returned to the mound for the first time in nearly a year on Feb. 20, 2016 after being previously been sidelined since early in the 2015 season due to a broken hand.

2017 Slate Takes Mavericks Around the Nation
Omaha's 2017 schedule includes 55 games, and the team will play in 12 states against schools from 10 other Division I conferences. Four opponents – Louisville, Nebraska, Saint Mary's and Oral Roberts – played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Entering the season, the Mavericks had never faced two of their opponents in Saint Mary's and Louisville. Omaha holds a combined all-time record of 265-314 over all teams on the regular-season slate.

Porter Enters First Season as Head Coach
Head coach Evan Porter enters his first year as the skipper of the Omaha baseball program in 2017 after serving four years as an assistant coach. One of the most decorated players in UNO history, Porter was four-year starter at shortstop from 2005-09 and a two-time All-American. He was also a three-time all-region selection from 2007-09, earning awards from Daktronics and Rawlings/ABCA. Additionally, Porter was a two-time All-NCC pick (2007-08) and was first-team All-MIAA in 2009.

Porter's name runs through the Omaha record books, as he remains the program's all-time leader in games played (239), at-bats (869), hits (323), doubles (75), home runs (43), runs batted in (249) and total bases (527). His 97 hits recorded as a senior were a UNO single-season record that still stands.

A member of the UNO squad that earned a berth to the 2007 NCAA Division II College World Series, Porter was part of two Maverick teams (2006, 2008) that set a school record with 45 wins. During his time, UNO made four straight NCAA regional appearances and won the 2008 NCC championship.

Following his senior campaign, Porter was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 23rd round. He has played professionally overseas for the Solingen Alligators in Germany (2010), Gothenburg Sharks in Sweden (2011), Victoria Park Reds in Australia (2011-12), ADO AamigoO Lakers in Holland (2012) and Sölvesborg Firehawks in Sweden (2014, 2016).

Porter is assisted by assistant coach Chris Gadsden, in his 18th year, and pitching coach Brian Strawn, in his second year, as well as volunteer assistant coach Brett Swain, who is in his first year.