So far, so good for first-year UNO head coach Blake Dean.
“I talked to coach Mainieri,” said the former Tiger. “He said you might as well go ahead and retire now. You have the highest percentage of any college coach.”
Dean and his Privateers are 3-0 after defeating Alcorn State, Grambling State and Louisiana Tech in the MLB Urban Invitational on opening weekend.
“In this game, there are 56 regular season games,” says Dean. “ We all know it’s not how you start, but how you finish. So we’re excited, and the guys are excited, and we want to keep that momentum rolling.”
Their perfect start comes thanks to some solid pitching and strong defense, but primarily some big bats. UNO hit .373 over the weekend in three games with four home runs to go with 29 runs.
“We’ve got some guys with power,” says Dean. “But you never really know how you’re going to be until you strap it up against somebody else with a different color uniform on. So that’s when we finally could see the competitive nature come out in these guys and what they’re going to be made of.”
The never-give-up and scrappy play the Privateers brought when playing from behind in games two and three is exactly what they’ve been looking for.
“We’re trying to change the culture of this place and get these guys back in tune with what it used to be,” says Dean. “The stuff we’ve been teaching these guys is being competitive for 27 outs, playing the game hard, running hard to first and taking that extra base. Those are the type of things that we have to do to win baseball games. At this point so far, I know it’s early in the season, but they really have been doing a great job with it.”
The next challenges to overcome will be pitching depth and winning on the road. The Privateers will start a true freshman lefty, Brian Warzek, against Southern Miss on Wednesday night.
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