Leading Off The Omaha baseball team kicks off a 10-game road stretch this week, visiting Air Force for a midweek series on Tuesday, April 18 and Wednesday, April 19 at Falcon Field in Colorado Springs, Colo. First pitch on Tuesday is set for 4 p.m. CT, followed by 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The games will be broadcast live on Mountain West Network, and links to live video and stats will be available on OMavs.com.
Quick Hits •Senior Sam Palensky carries a career-long 25-game reaching base streak into the week, the longest of any Maverick this year. It marks the longest reaching base streak of any Maverick since Clayton Taylor (32) in 2016. •Sophomore Grant Suponchick is batting a team-leading .372 in Summit League play, the fourth-highest average of any league hitter. •Junior Corey Binger is one of 17 pitchers in the country with three or more complete games this season. •Twenty-eight players have seen playing time in the Mavericks' first 34 games. •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. •The 2017 season marks Omaha’s second with full NCAA Division I postseason eligibility for the Summit League and NCAA Tournaments. The Mavericks completed a required four-year Division I reclassification period from 2012 to 2015. •UNO returned 19 letterwinners this year, including six position players with starting experience: Palensky, Suponchick, juniors Ryan Cate and Adam Caniglia and sophomores Riley Herold and Jack Kalina. •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 260-305 all-time against all opponents on the schedule this year and 150-136 all-time against the five other teams in the Summit League. The Mavericks have compiled a 70-55 record in Summit League play since 2013.
Scouting the Air Force Falcons Air Force enters the week with a record of 15-19 (5-13 Mountain West). The Falcons have lost four of their last five games after playing a three-game conference series at Fresno State last weekend. They opened Friday with a 7-5 loss, rebounded for a 10-5 win on Saturday and dropped the weekend finale on Sunday, 8-7 in 10 innings.
Head coach Mike Kazlausky is in his seventh season at Air Force, carrying a career record of 136-220.
Omaha leads the all-time series with Air Force, 7-6. The two teams last met on March 28 at Seymour Smith Park, where the Falcons shut out the Mavericks, 1-0. Nick Biancalana earned the win with 8.1 innings of work, keeping Omaha to three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Leading the League Freshman Cole Thibodeau ranks 20th nationally and leads the Summit League with eight sacrifice bunts. Junior Corey Binger leads all league pitchers for games started (nine), complete games (three) and shutouts (one), and senior Sam Murphy matches him for games started (nine) and strikeouts per game (9.49).
As a team, Omaha is 26th in the country and the league's top squad for sac bunts (29).
Out of the Pen Omaha got a pair of strong outings from the bullpen last weekend vs. Oral Roberts. On Saturday, junior right-hander Payton Kinney threw 4.1 innings, striking out a season-high nine batters and issuing no walks. On Sunday, sophomore right-hander Cal Hehnke tossed 4.0 innings of relief, limiting ORU to one run on two hits with a career-high six strikeouts.
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 second in the category with 58 appearances. He ranks behind only Brandon Dahl (2006-10), who had 63. Murphy has also faced 751 batters in his career -- the eighth-most of any Maverick.
Palensky Makes the Move to Short After starting all 56 games at second base as a junior, senior Sam Palensky made the switch to shortstop for his 2017 campaign and has had the starting nod there in all 34 games. Offensively, the Papillion, Neb., native owns six multi-hit performances and has reached base in 25 straight contests, which leads the Mavericks.
Palensky is following in the steps of his older brother, Caleb, a four-year starting infielder from 2011-14.
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 260-305 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.
Up Next Omaha returns to action on Friday, April 21, visiting North Dakota State. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. in Fargo, N.D., and links to live stats, audio and video will be available on OMavs.com.