FARGO-The University of Nebraska-Omaha had more trouble scoring against North Dakota State than just about anybody else this season. That changed in a big way on Saturday afternoon.
The Bison left Newman Outdoor Field on the wrong end of a 13-2 baseball loss, their worst defeat of the year. It was one of those days when it was probably best to forget about it the minute the game was over.
"This was a classic buttkicking," said Bison head coach Tod Brown. "No idea. We looked like a team that really didn't want to play. I just didn't like how we came out and competed."
The Mavericks came to Newman Outdoor Field scoring two runs in 28 innings against the Bison. They broke through in a game that was uncharacteristically sloppy for the NDSU defense.
Perhaps more important is the bigger picture. The Bison (16-19, 8-10) and Mavericks (14-24, 9-8) are locked in a four-way battle for second place in the Summit League with the top four teams making the Summit postseason tournament.
At least NDSU is home the rest of the season with three-game series' against Oral Roberts, Purdue-Fort Wayne and South Dakota State remaining. The series finale with Omaha is Sunday at 1 p.m. at Newman.
"If we win tomorrow we'll be fine," Brown said. "Anytime you can win a series it's good."
On the flipside, Brown said, all the potential issues of being constantly on the road do not apply anymore.
"We've been making excuses for ourselves the last 10 weeks," he said. "On the bus. We've got this. The hotels. The weather. All that stuff. It's a beautiful day, you have family up here and that's how we play? Come on. It's time to perform and I challenged them. I'm interested to see what type of team we show up with tomorrow."
The first two games had similar outcomes, with each on the opposite side of a big win. NDSU took the opener 9-1 on Friday.
"I feel like there's a couple of ways you can take it, use it as fuel for tomorrow," said Bison sophomore outfielder Carter Thompson. "We kicked them yesterday and they got us today and we'll take that in to tomorrow."
The Mavericks made three hits count in the top of the third to plate four runs, stacking them to a 5-0 advantage. NDSU didn't help itself by botching up a pickoff attempt at first base.
It was a rare non-quality start for Bison pitcher Blake Stockert, who gave up five hits and walked three in three innings.
"It all starts with our starting pitching today," Brown said.
NDSU got a couple back in the bottom of the fourth on Thompson's two-run blast to left field, the first career homer for the Fargo North graduate.
"I was seeing the ball pretty well today and saw fastball come right over the middle of the plate and got pretty aggressive with it," Thompson said.
It was the ninth start of the season for Thompson, who's battling for a regular spot in the lineup. He came into Saturday hitting .314 with a .400 on base percentage.
"When my opportunities come I try to make the most of them," Thompson said. "Everything is for the team."
UNO\u0009014 004 004-13 14 0
NDSU 000 200 000-2 7 3
Koelewyn, Hehnke (6) and Caniglia. Stockert, Koep (4), Federer (6), Tritch (6) and Emanuel. HR, Omaha, Palensky. W--Koelewyn (3-4). L--Stockert (4-2). HR-Omaha, Palensky (3). NDSU, Thompson (1).