UNO baseball coach Ron Maestri said this week has been about “as bad as it gets.”
In the past seven days, the Privateers lost shortstop Sammy Capielano and outfielder Ryan Calloway to ankle injuries that will keep them out for the next three weeks.
Maestri also said starting pitcher Shawn Semple was recently diagnosed with a case of mononucleosis. That will keep him out for at least a few weeks and thin out the Privateers’ staff.
“It just seems like the injuries have stacked up on us this week,” Maestri said. “We’ll just need all of our guys to step up. These injuries pop up from time to time, we’ll just need our other guys to exceed in their role.”
UNO (8-12, 2-4 Southland Conference) will certainly miss Calloway as it hosts Lamar (8-12, 0-6) this weekend at Maestri Field.
He is the team leader in hits (28), runs scored (18) and stolen bases (five). Calloway’s .443 on-base percentage is also fifth in the SLC among players with 70 or more at-bats.
And while Capielano’s production to this point hasn’t quite matched expectations (he was a preseason first-team All-Southland selection), he was was hitting .364 in March before his injury.
“Ryan has played great so far this year, so that’s a big loss, of course,” Maestri said. “You never know when guys will go down, so we’ll just need everyone else to pick up their production.”
The Privateers also head into this weekend’s series against Lamar (8-12, 0-6) without Semple, the team’s normal Friday starter and leader in strikeouts (25).
Maestri said he planned to move Alex Smith, UNO’s normal Saturday starter, up in the rotation to start Friday’s game. Other than Semple, Smith has been UNO’s most reliable starting option, throwing a team-high 32.2 innings with a 3.03 ERA.
“There’s nothing much (Semple) can do, he just has to rest and hopefully he’ll get better soon,” Maestri said. “We trust Alex. He’s been our Friday starter before. We’re just going to see how things go Friday, and then we’ll decide what we do Saturday.”
This weekend’s series against the Cardinals will be especially pivotal for UNO, which has already matched its number of conference wins from last season (two) only six games into their SLC schedule.
Maestri said he hopes the Privateers can navigate their three-game series against Lamar without three of their biggest contributors. They step out of Southland play next weekend with a series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Ideally, by the time UNO gets back into its conference schedule April 2-4 against McNeese State, the Privateers would start working some of their missing players back into the lineup.
“We have some tough games coming up after this weekend, but they’re not conference games,” Maestri said. “If those guys do well in their rehab, we’ll get them back soon enough.
“But we want to make sure we play well in conference, because our ultimate goal is to make the conference tournament.”
UNO begins this weekend’s series against at 6:30 p.m. Friday.