UNO loses to Nicholls again ... but the Privateers are in the Southland tournament _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- University of New Orleans outfielder Dakota Dean (17) hits a single in a game against Tulane as they play at Turchin Stadium at Tulane in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, May 10, 2016.

UNO suffered a sweep but survived to play more baseball after Saturday afternoon at Maestri Field.

The Privateers lost 11-5 to Nicholls State but still secured a spot in the conference postseason tournament.

It will be UNO’s first tournament appearance since 2008.

The Privateers (30-24, 14-16 Southland) finished conference play tied with Stephen F. Austin and Nicholls (26-30, 14-16). Even though the Colonels’ win completed a three-game sweep of the Privateers, Nicholls was left out of the tournament because of its 0-3 record this season against top-seeded Sam Houston State.

The SLC tournament is at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas. UNO will face second-seeded Southeastern Louisiana at noon Wednesday.

“It came full-circle,” UNO coach Blake Dean said. “Obviously you don’t want to end your last weekend being swept and rely on somebody else, but these guys took care of business against the top teams which is what it came down to.

“I told them now that you’re in the tournament, this is our new standard and hopefully we continue to do that moving forward.”

On Saturday, UNO and Nicholls traded runs in the early innings. The Colonels scored on Joey Morales’ RBI double and the Privateers answered when Dakota Dean double home Aaron Palmer.

The teams each struck for three runs in the third inning before UNO fell behind for good. The Privateers were held to just three hits after the fourth inning and had four errors on the day.

“We’ve just got to get these guys back focused,” Dean said. “We’re bruised and beat up so we’ll try to get these guys’ legs back underneath them. We’ll have to get back to what worked for us all year. This weekend we gave too many extra chances so we’ve just got to refocus.”

Dean, who had two RBIs, finished with three hits along with Palmer. Samuel Capielano, Hezekiah Randolph, and Kyle Bracey each added a hit and an RBI. Shawn Semple took the loss in relief of starter Bryan Warzek.

Nicholls got a hit from nine of ten players who appeared in the game. Kyle Knauth and Alex Tucker had three-hit games. Kyle Reese, Alex Shermer, Ethan Valdez, and Morales added two hits apiece. Daniel Goff picked up the win, limiting the Privateers to one run over five innings.

The tournament berth is the first for UNO since its membership in the Sun Belt Conference. The Privateers 30 wins are 16 better than their total from last season, a turnaround that ranks among the best in Division I baseball.