UNO baseball coach Bob Herold said he thought it was strange that shortstop Caleb Palensky was hugging him after the Mavericks' season-ending 8-2 win over South Dakota State.
“Caleb's not a kissy, huggy guy,” Herold said.
It wasn't long before Herold figured out Palensky's intentions.
“Of course it was a setup,” Herold said.
Palensky's prolonged affection was just the distraction seniors Cory Buckley and Ryan Keele needed to retrieve the team Gatorade bucket and give their coach a cold bath on a warm day.
The Mavs had reason to celebrate after taking down the Jackrabbits for the third time in four games in front of 463 at the Ballpark at Boys Town.
A day earlier, Keele's walk-off homer had clinched the regular-season Summit League championship for UNO.
“It was worth it,” Herold said. “If I get a bath every time we win a championship, I'll take one every time.”
The Mavs erupted for six runs in the fifth inning, and Buckley saved his best for last, hitting his first homer of the year in his final at-bat as a Maverick in the eighth inning.
The first baseman from Bellevue East went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and three RBIs as the Mavericks ended with a Summit-best 20-6 record and went 27-22 overall.
Buckley said he was trying to extend the inning to get Keele one more at-bat as a Mav when he belted his eighth-inning homer. Keele, an outfielder from Bellevue East, had been walked intentionally in his previous plate appearance.
“I was just itching for that last at-bat,” Buckley said, “and the whole time I was thinking 'try to get Keele another at-bat,' because I knew he didn't want to go out with a walk.”
Keele made the most of his second chance, ending his career with a base hit to right field.
Keele and Buckley were honored along with Derek Landis, Connor McCrite and Matt Tew in a pregame Senior Day presentation.
There was an additional postgame presentation celebrating the team's Summit League title. It was during that ceremony that Herold got drenched.
The Mavs' six-run fifth inning came without the benefit of an extra-base hit.
UNO tagged Jackrabbit starter Kolton Emery with four singles, capped by back-to-back two-run hits from Alex Mortensen and Alex Schultz that gave UNO a 6-1 lead.
UNO starter Zach Williamsen (4-1), who had allowed five hits through five innings, couldn't escape the sixth, walking three Jackrabbits and hitting another as South Dakota State cut the Maverick lead to 6-2.
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