MACOMB, Ill. -- A day after winning its second straight Summit League regular-season title, the Omaha baseball team closed the 2014 season with an 8-5 win over Western Illinois at Boyer Stadium. The Mavericks, who have won seven straight, finish the year with a record of 31-20 (15-9 Summit League), while the Leathernecks drop to 19-29 (11-12 Summit League).
The win went to junior reliever Cole Volkers (4-2), who threw one scoreless inning with one hit allowed and a strikeout. The loss went to Nick Milligan (4-1), who surrendered one run on one hit over 1.1 innings thrown.
Sophomore Cole Gruber paced Omaha at the plate, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Senior Brett Bass also had a hit and drove in a pair of runs, and junior Daniel Jewett had a hit and scored twice.
Western Illinois took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and pushed it to 2-0 in the second. UNO struck back for a run in the fourth, cutting it to 2-1 when Palensky drew a bases-loaded walk to score Gruber.
In the bottom half of the fourth, WIU put up another run with Maki's RBI single to right center scoring Risdon to make it 3-1.
The Mavericks made it a one-run ballgame again in the fifth. Senior Dylan Casey led off the inning with a double to right center and scored with the help of two straight wild pitches, and Omaha trailed just 3-2.
UNO tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh when Jewett laced a leadoff single up the middle and later scored on a Leatherneck wild pitch. The Mavericks finally took the lead in the seventh, exploding for five runs on five hits. With one out, sophomore Alex Schultz singled to left, and Jewett was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Senior Tyler Splichal then singled through the right side to plate Schultz, and freshman Tyler Biggs came up with a pinch-hit RBI single up the middle to cross Jewett.
With UNO leading 5-3, Gruber singled through the left side to load the bases for sophomore Clayton Taylor, who was hit by a pitch to score Splichal. Bass capped the scoring with a two-run single to left center, which scored Gruber and Biggs and brought the score to 8-3.
Western Illinois put together a brief rally in the bottom of the ninth, plating two runs on four hits, but it was not enough to overcome Omaha's advantage in the 8-5 decision.
Omaha, in its third year of Division I reclassification and its second as a member of the Summit League, has won back-to-back regular-season conference championships in 2013 and 2014. The Mavericks, however, are ineligible for postseason play at the Summit League Tournament and the NCAA Tournament until 2015-16.