Even though he’s in the middle of suffering the second losing season of his career, UNO baseball coach Ron Maestri hasn’t lost his fire.
In fact, Maestri — who never experienced a losing campaign during his 14 years coaching UNO during the ’70s and ’80s — looked as passionate as ever when he got ejected from the Privateers’ loss Sunday against Abilene Cristian after arguing a call at first base.
It was Maestri’s first ejection of the season.
“If I think the umpires made a bad call and it hurts my team, I’m always going to defend my guys,” Maestri said. “I’m not usually that animated, but if I know they made the wrong call, I’m going to let them know how I feel.”
Maestri said he didn’t intend on using his ejection as a ploy to swing momentum in his team’s favor, but he hopes it’s a reminder to players about how they should approach every game.
“I coach the same way whether we’re winning every game or losing every game,” said Maestri, who owns a career record of 543-308-1 during his time at UNO. “I believe our guys play hard every day and focus, so I don’t need to convince them of that. But I do think moments like that can unite the team.”
As the Privateers approach this weekend’s series against Nicholls State, Maestri hopes one othe thing can unite the team: the long-awaited return of shortstop Sammy Capielano, who dealt with an injured ankle for nearly the past two months.
Capielano, a preseason first-team All-Southland selection, hasn’t been able to match last year’s explosive freshman season, but Maestri hopes that his bat can give a boost to a team that has struggled to generate runs as of late.
Last Friday, the former Holy Cross standout made only his third start for UNO since the mid-March, and Maestri hopes Capielano can find his groove as he gains additional game experience.
“He still isn’t quite 100 percent yet, but he’s fighting to gut it out for us, and that’s all you can ask,” Maestri said. “He’s a guy that hit .340 for us last year, so if he can begin to get more comfortable hitting he can add a lot for us offensively.”
While UNO began to have some good luck with the injury bug when it came to Capielano’s ankle, Privateers pitcher Shawn Semple has continued with his streak of bad luck on the injury front.
The freshman — who recently returned after missing a month to mononucleosis — was removed early from his start against Abilene Christian because of tightness in his throwing shoulder. Maestri said Semple will also miss his scheduled start against Nicholls in this weekend’s series, which begins Friday in Thibodaux.
Maestri said he hasn’t made a decision yet, but he is leaning toward shutting Semple down for the rest of the season for precautionary reasons.
Semple owns a 2-4 record in eight starts with 34 strikeouts and a 2.70 ERA.
“He has a really bright future for us, and we don’t want to take any chances,” Maestri said. “He didn’t suffer any serious injuries, but we’d rather be safe than sorry. He may throw one or two innings out of the bullpen, but I’m leaning toward shutting him down.”