While winning the first weekend series of conference play may not usually be as important for most teams this early in the season, it was vital for the UNO baseball team.
The Privateers had never won a series against a Southland Conference opponent since joining in 2014 and wanted to prove they could carry the momentum from their magical start into the games that matter most.
UNO (13-3, 2-1) started its doubleheader against Sam Houston State (5-11, 1-2) with a 7-6 win to clinch the series win at Maestri Field on Sunday before dropping the final game of the series 8-4.
“We obviously would’ve loved the sweep, but that’s just kind of how it goes,” UNO coach Blake Dean said. “I’m glad they got this first one out of the way, and hopefully we can continue to push forward.”
The ending for the second game of the day was marred when both benches emptied as an altercation between the two teams spilled onto the field, but things were broken up before any punches were thrown.
Dean said after the game that he was unsure how the altercation began.
“We’re still not sure who popped off or who said what, but we’re trying to resolve it,” he said. “It looked like it may have initiated between the coaches, but we’ll figure it out and see what happened.”
UNO 7, SAM HOUSTON STATE 6: UNO beat the Bearkats in the first contest of the day, mostly because of a six-run explosion by the Privateers in the sixth inning that put the game away.
Hezekiah Randolph started things off in the sixth with a two-run double, which was followed by an RBI single from Sammy Capielano. Chaz Boyer capped off the inning with a three-run home run that gave UNO a lead it would not relinquish.
SAM HOUSTON STATE 8, UNO 4: While the Privateers have relied on late-game hitting to pull out a few wins early in the season, Sam Houston’s offense secured the second game of the day.
The Bearkats led 3-2 for the majority of the contest but put things out of reach with five runs in the final two innings, including a four-run ninth that made the score 8-2.
UNO finally got things going in the ninth as Jay Robinson’s two-run double cut the Bearkats’ lead to 8-4. But Ryan Calloway struck out swinging to end the game and the Privateers’ comeback bid.
“They pounded the zone hard, and we got a few hits, but we were unable to capatilize,” Dean said. “They bounced back and really outplayed us in that second game. You have to give them credit.”
Dean said his team’s 9.2 runs per game coming into this weekend’s series was a luxury they’ve been able to enjoy thus, but it needs to find more ways to win in games where runs are harder to come by.
“We were a little passive and weren’t doing the things we were supposed to do,” he said. “We anticipate that pitching is going to get better in conference, so we need to pitch better and play better defense.”