OMAHA, Neb. — Starter Max Loven and closer Parker Harm shut down Omaha's bats as North Dakota State defeated the Mavericks 3-1 in the opening round of the Summit League Championship at Tal Anderson Field on Thursday.
The Bison (39-16) will attempt to tie the school record for wins — NDSU was 40-20 in 2012 — against Oral Roberts in the Summit winners semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday in Omaha. Oral Roberts advanced with a 7-1 win over South Dakota State on Thursday. SDSU and Omaha play an elimination game at 11 a.m. Friday.
Loven (3-2) had the Mavericks mastered from the start. He set down the first 11 batters he faced and retired Omaha in order in five of his eight innings. Loven struck out seven and didn't allow a runner past first until the Mavericks' Brett Bonar homered with two outs in the eighth. Harm picked up his 10th save, striking out two of three Mavericks he faced.
The Bison took a 2-0 lead in the second when Tucker Rohde and Zach Solano both drew walks and both came around on Nick Emanuel's single and Jack Simonsen's ground out. The Bison had a chance to add on, loading the bases with two outs in the third, but the Mavericks survived the threat unscathed.
Emanuel homered to lead off the fourth inning, making it 3-0. The Bison made a key defensive play in the eighth to keep Omaha at bay. The Mavericks' Chris Esposito singled with one out in the eighth but Bison left fielder Jake Malec fired a throw to second baseman Peter Brookshaw to cut down Esposito trying to take second. Bonar hit the next pitch over the right field fence.