UNO baseball coach Blake Dean wasn’t happy about the position his team put itself in at the end of Saturday’s Southland Conference opener, but all that mattered to him was the way it responded.
The Privateers (12-2, 1-0) overcame the loss of a ninth-inning lead for the second straight game and got a walkoff single from second baseman Sammy Capielano to clinch a 4-3 win over Sam Houston State after ten innings, kicking off the first weekend series of SLC play at Maestri Field.
The series was supposed to begin on Friday, but weather concerns forced the game to be postponed. It will be made up with a doubleheader that begins at 11 a.m. Sunday.
“Our guys do a really good job of playing the game hard and responding no matter what,” Dean said. “I’m tickled to death we won, but I wish we did a better job making the small plays at the end of games.
“But we won, so that’s all that matters.”
After both teams went scoreless through the first five innings, UNO grabbed its first lead in the sixth following an RBI groundout by Dakota Dean and an RBI double by Hezekiah Randolph that made the score 2-1.
The Privateers appeared to be in control after Preston Marsh made the score 3-1 with a solo home run in the following inning, but the Bearkats (4-10, 0-1) responded.
SHS catcher Robie Rojas reignited his team with a two-run home run in the ninth that tied the score at 3, and after UNO failed to score in the bottom of the frame, sent the contest into extra innings.
With runners on first and third, Capielano — a former Holy Cross standout — won the game with his hit in the 10th that brought home the winning run and extended UNO’s record at home to 12-0.
“That was a big moment for the team,” Capielano said. “I heard my teammates picking me up and getting that win was just really big for us.”
UNO starting pitcher Shawn Semple has been a rock at the top of the rotation for UNO in his second season on the Lakefront, and he provided the best outing of his career when his team needed it most.
The sophomore lasted 8.1 innings and allowed two runs on eight hits, while adding a career-high 11 strikeouts. Semple has lasted at least six innings and struck out at least eight batters in each of his four starts this season.
“They whipped me pretty good out there last year, and I just wanted to show them what I can really do,” Semple said. “I felt good today, and it’s great playing with this team.
“Even when we lost the lead, I knew we were going to come back.”
With only 11 pitchers on the roster, Semple’s performance was especially important for UNO needed to save as many arms as possible for Sunday’s doubleheader. With a win in either game, the Privateers will clinch their first series victory in conference play since joining the Southland in 2014.