For now, the slide continues. UNO’s job is to stop it.
The Privateers dive back into Southland Conference conference play with a three-game weekend series against McNeese State, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Maestri Field.
UNO (18-11, 4-5) started hot this season under first-year coach Blake Dean but has dropped six of its past eight games.
The good news: The Privateers have their next seven games at home, where they are 15-1 this season. UNO enters a critical stretch against a McNeese State (15-11, 7-5), which holds the fourth spot in the conference standings.
“It’s always nice to start good in the beginning and get yourself some breathing room, but it’s all about how you finish,” Dean said. “If you can’t dig deeper at this stage, then the beginning of the season will be almost pointless.”
If Wednesday’s trip to South Alabama is any indication, the Privateers must indeed dig deeper. They fell behind by 10 runs in the first four innings of a 12-3 loss. UNO didn’t score until the seventh inning.
“We have to move forward, so we’ll get back in and hopefully get back to where we have been all year,” Dean said. “Our pitchers have to get better, and we can’t walk guys. Even if you don’t give up runs, you’re still playing with fire.”
UNO will throw Shawn Semple on Friday and Riley Hodge on Saturday. Dean has not announced a Sunday starter.
Kaleb Fontenot will throw Friday for McNeese, followed by left-hander Bryan King on Saturday and right-hander Bryce Kingsley on Sunday.
The Semple-Fontenot match-up features two pitchers who rank among the top five in the Southland in strikeouts.
Fontenot is chasing history as he enters the series having tossed a school-record 28 consecutive scoreless innings.
McNeese State is coached by Justin Hill, whose Cowboys pulled off their second win over a ranked opponent when they defeated Houston 4-1.
The Cowboys also own a win over then 16th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette on March 2.
Connor Crane leads the team in hits, batting average, RBIs and stolen bases.
Crane also has five home runs, which is tied for the team lead and also tied for third in the conference.
This weekend also features a matchup of the most disciplined lineups in the Southland.McNeese State has the fewest strikeouts at the plate with 162. UNO has the second-fewest with 170.