Sophomore Aaron Palensky graduated just down the road from Werner Park at Papillion-La Vista South. His brother, Ben Palensky, was in the opposite color jersey for the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (21-10-1). The two had 20 to 30 family members in attendance, according to Aaron Palensky.
The Husker won the brotherly competition on a crisp, cool night, as he broke the 4-4 tie in the eighth inning with an RBI single which would begin a four-run inning for Nebraska (21-11) in an 8-5 win over the Mavericks.
“It was pretty cool to see those two guys go at it,” head coach Darin Erstad said.
Just one night after Nebraska was 0-16 with runners in scoring position, the Husker bats exploded for eight runs on 11 hits.
Freshman Kyle Perry surrendered five walks and one hit in the first inning allowing UNO to put up three runs in the first inning.
“Guys were ticked off. We wanted to get off to a good start, and we had a couple young pups learn the value of the strike zone,” Erstad said. “I did like our response. The three spot ([n the third inning] was huge. It could have gotten real ugly in a hurry.”
Junior Joe Acker finally got the bats going for the Huskers in the top of the second inning with a single to center field. Junior Luke Roskam began his 3-3 day with a ground-rule double to send Acker to third base. Junior Mojo Hagge hit a sacrifice fly to bring Acker home, but freshman Colby Gomes flew out to end the inning.
Senior Mike Waldron retired the Mavericks in order in the second inning and freshman Spencer Schwellenbach led off the third inning with his first career home run to cut UNO’s lead to one. Nebraska would keep the bats going, as sophomore Aaron Palensky ripped a ground ball single up the middle.
Senior Angelo Altavilla drew a walk and Roskam hit his second double of the night to give the Huskers a 4-3 lead.
Freshman Bo Blessie came in to pitch for Waldron in the bottom of the third inning. Blessie struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first three batters to load the bases. He bounced back, recording consecutive outs, but walked senior Brandon Rogers which brought in a run to tie the game.
Both pitching staffs settled down through the next two innings allowing just three hits between the two teams.
Nebraska’s next best chance to score was in the top of the sixth inning as senior Alex Henwood capitalized on a dropped foul ball that would have ended the inning. Instead, Henwood singled to keep the inning alive. Schwellenbach singled to put runners on first and third, but Palensky grounded out to end the inning.
Palensky would redeem himself in the eighth inning with an RBI single to give the Huskers a 5-4 lead. Acker would keep the scoring going for Nebraska on a two-out line drive to bring in two runs and Roskam reached on an error to add insult to injury giving Nebraska an 8-4 lead in the top of the eighth.
“It definitely felt good to come through for the boys,” Palensky said. “It meant a little more playing an in-state rivalry.”
Senior Thomas Debonville responded with his fourth home run of the year to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning for UNO. Freshman Shay Schanaman would not be phased, retiring the next three batters to limit any damage.
Nebraska couldn’t add any insurance runs in the top of the ninth, but it wouldn’t matter, as Gomes would strike out the side to end the game.
Nebraska will be in Iowa City on Friday for their weekend series with Iowa. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.