If UNO baseball coach Blake Dean had any concerns about his team overlooking Tuesday’s game against Southern, they were relieved very quickly.
The Privateers exploded early and cruised to a 14-4 win over the Jaguars at Maestri Field that was called after seven innings because of the mercy rule — continuing the team’s best start to a season since 1996.
UNO (10-2) now has five double-digit scoring games on the year, after only combining for six over the past two seasons.
“The wind was blowing out and our guys were able to lift a few hits out of here,” Dean said. “Our pitching is thin; we know that’s our weakness. But when we score 14 runs, it takes pressure off of those guys.”
The Privateers missed out on an early opportunity to get a run on the board in the first inning, but they did more than enough to make up for it the next time around.
They racked up 10 runs in the second inning, including eight hits by seven different players and three home runs, increasing the team’s total to eight on the season — the same number it hit all last season.
Two of those homers came from catcher Kyle Bracey, who became the first Privateer to hit two in a game since 2012.
The junior finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs. Bracey has sizzled at the plate, leading UNO in batting average (.348), home runs (three) and RBIs (15).
“I don’t think I’ve ever hit two home runs in an inning before,” Bracey said. “I just got a couple of good pitches to hit, trusted my hands and got a good hit on them. It was fun watching everybody get involved because we know we have a big week ahead of us.”
Dean added: “He’s a very tough kid. He’s got crazy power and he’s finally learning how to hit a little bit. If he keeps it up, he might give himself a chance to play professionally.”
While there were many reasons to be upset with giving up 10 runs in one inning, the thing that bothered Southern coach Roger Cador the most was the self-inflicted miscues that came back to bite the Jaguars (2-9).
The Privateers only had one run on the board when Southern shortstop Troy Lewis fumbled a ground ball that would’ve ended the inning. Instead, it allowed a UNO run to score.
The Jaguars had two more errors in the inning, and Cador said his team has to do a better job executing the fundamentals.
“That’s kind of our Achilles’ heel right now,” he said. “We’ve had two games this season where we’ve given up a bunch of runs when we had an opportunity to end the inning. We have to make those routine plays.”
UNO is scheduled to play crosstown rival Tulane at Maestri Field at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The Jaguars open a three-game Southwestern Athletic Conference series at Prairie View on Friday.