With the way the past few weeks have gone, UNO baseball coach Blake Dean thought his team just needed to take a mental break.
So after getting swept in last weekend’s series against McNeese State, Dean told his team to relax Monday and come back ready to prepare for Wednesday’s tough matchup against in-state rival UL-Lafayette.
“You never really get that much time to yourself to relax during the course of a baseball season,” the first-year coach said. “Sometimes the games just get so repetitive, and you look up and 30 or 40 games have gone by and you didn’t even realize it.
“Sometimes breaking it up a little bit can allow you to refocus on what your goals really are.”
UNO (18-14) has dropped nine of its past 11 games after a promising 16-5 start, and the road isn’t getting any easier for the Privateers.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are at No. 23 in the latest RPI.
UL-Lafayette (21-11) handed the Privateers their second loss of the season March 1 by coming back from a 4-1 deficit to score six runs in the seventh and eighth innings to come away with a 7-4 win.
Dean said his team wasn’t as aggressive as the Ragin’ Cajuns down the stretch in the late innings of that game.
“We just have to swing the bat. We’re an offensive team, and we know we have to score if we want to win,” Dean said. “Obviously we had the lead last time, but they have some good players and they got big hits when they needed them. We just have to be the guys to get those big hits this time around if we want to win.”
More than anything else, Dean is hoping the idea of playing against one of the nation’s better teams will be enough to wake his team up from its recent slump.
“If you don’t get fired up to play in games like this, you’re in the wrong sport,” he said. “Hopefully that can really get their blood going a little bit.”
After getting pulled only 0.1 innings into his start in Sunday’s loss against McNeese State, freshman pitcher Bryan Warzek will start Wednesday.
Warzek had been the team’s midweek starter for most of the season, but Dean thought he was pitching well enough to make him a part of the weekend rotation. Warzek struggled in his two weekend starts — including Sunday’s early departure — and the UNO coach decided a move back to the middle of the week might be the right choice.
Warzek started against UL-Lafayette and pitched well before giving up back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning.
“I think he’s really already put that McNeese game behind him,” Dean said. “It’s tough to come in as a freshman and get thrown in those situations, but he feels comfortable pitching during the week, so hopefully that can get him back on track.”