‘They deserve all the accolades:’ Former coach Ron Maestri excited by UNO baseball team’s resurgence _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- UNO coach Ron Maestri watches as his Privateers take on LSU on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at Alex Box Stadium.

Rainy weather has been an issue for baseball teams throughout Louisiana the past week — but if UNO can dodge the raindrops this weekend, it will have an opportunity to pul out of its worst funk of the year.

The Privateers (11-24, 2-13 in Southland Conference) enter the weekend on a season-high seven-game losing streak, and while their matchup against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (17-15, 7-8) will be tough, UNO coach Ron Maestri sees it as a chance for the team to regain confidence after a rough stretch.

“You see teams like Northwestern State and McNeese State at the top (of the Southland standings) and we were right there with them,” Maestri said, referring to a handful of close losses to two conference rivals. “We’re a competitive team. We’ve been right there with the best teams in the conference. We just have to do a better job of finishing.

While UNO had to cancel its game at Southern on Wednesday because of the rain, the Islanders had to deal with weather issues of their own.

Their game against Houston-Victoria, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed and eventually canceled because of the rain.

Maestri said the Privateers have been limited to the batting cage the entire week, but he doesn’t think it will have an effect on how either team plays this weekend.

“It is what it is at this time of year,” Maestri said. “We’ve gotten plenty of hitting in this week, and with some of the injuries we’ve had to deal with, it might have been good for us to have a few days off.”

Some of those injured players could be on their way back to the lineup this weekend.

Pitcher Shawn Semple, who hasn’t appeared in a game since March 13 after being diagnosed with mononucleosis, is set to start Sunday’s game after receiving his doctor’s approval to return this week.

The freshman was UNO’s most reliable starter before going down, compiling 28.1 innings through his first five starts. He has allowed eight earned runs and struck out 25.

“We’re planning on seeing what he can do on Sunday, but he’s been out for a while now, so I’m sure we’ll have him on a pitch count,” Maestri said. “He’s been getting his throwing in all week, and I know he’s dying to get back out there, but we’ll just see how he looks once he starts getting warmed up and go from there.”

Maestri also said shortstop Sammy Capielano, who has missed all but one of UNO’s games since injuring his ankle March 15, hopes to return this weekend, depending on how a visit with his doctor goes Saturday morning.

“Bringing back a preseason all-conference guy like Sammy to our lineup and maybe our best starter in Shawn will be huge for us,” Maestri said. “Sammy was our best hitter last year, and adding that kind of pop to what we already have will be great.

“Not to mention, losing Shawn kind of took everybody out of what we intended them to do going into the season. Now with him back holding down a starting spot, I think that will stabilize our bullpen as well.”

A&M-Corpus Christi is led by outfielder Jordan Lee, who was named Southland Conference Hitter of the Week last week.

The senior hit .579 through in five games, with two home runs, five RBIs and nine runs scored. He also stole three bases.

“There’s no doubt, we have some great players in this conference,” Maestri said. “We’re familiar with him because what he did to us last year, but he’s a great player. He’s been really hot lately, so we’re going to have to focus on slowing him down.”

UNO begins its three-game series against A&M-Corpus Christi at 6:30 p.m. Friday.