Heading into his first game as baseball coach at UNO, Blake Dean wanted his team to embrace more of an offensive mentality.
The Privateers did just that as they burst through the gates with a 12-3 win over Alcorn State in the MLB Urban Invitational on Friday night at Maestri Field.
UNO’s 12 runs were a level the team only reached three times last year, and its 18 hits would’ve tied its season high from 2015.
“I was a little more intense now that I’m no longer the assistant, but it was great to get this win,” said Dean, at 27 the youngest head coach in Division I. “It took us a while to get adjusted to their starter, but our guys just stayed aggressive.”
UNO had a Southland Conference-worst eight home runs in 2015 but utilized some of its newfound power to take control Friday.
The Privateers broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth with soaring home runs over the left-field wall — on back-to-back pitches — by Hezekiah Randolph and Aaron Palmer to give the Privateers a 3-1 lead.
Palmer, a junior-college transfer, added to the lead with a three-run triple in the fifth. Chaz Boyer and Kyle Bracey followed Palmer with RBI singles as UNO’s lead ballooned to 8-1.
Palmer added a two-run single in the sixth to finish with six RBIs and three runs. Ryan Calloway went 3-for-5 with three runs.
“It was awesome for us to come out and get off to a good start like this,” Palmer said. “We just wanted to buy in to what Coach (Dean) has been teaching: Swing the bat and be aggressive.”
UNO sophomore Shawn Semple struck out nine and allowed one run and four hits in six innings. After a bout with mononucleosis derailed a promising start to Sample’s freshman season, Dean said he was happy to see Semple returning to form.
“It’s really big for us when Shawn can come out and set the tone like he did,” Dean said.
“He had a little trouble with his control early, but he was good enough to get the win, and that’s all that matters.”
The Privateers play Grambling at 6 p.m. Saturday.