Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On Any Given Day

Talk about a shocker! Not much going well for this team (or school) as UNO is headed down to Division III due in large part to Hurricane Katrina. They sure came through last night though against one of the best programs around. LSU's coach just happens to be a UNO grad.

UNO stuns LSU baseball team 7-4 at Alex Box Stadium
By Jim Kleinpeter, The Times Picayune
April 28, 2010, 12:08AM

BATON ROUGE - In a goodbye season full of disappointment and losses, the once-proud UNO baseball program provided a glimpse Tuesday night of what could have been and what once was.

The Privateers pulled together enough pitching, timely hitting and defense to stun reigning NCAA champion LSU 7-4 at Alex Box Stadium.

The victory snapped a nine-game losing streak for UNO (11-29), which will play as a Division I independent next season as it transitions into Division III status. It also provided a reminder of the program that was the first from Louisiana to reach the College World Series (1984).

"It is huge," said UNO second baseman Nick Schwaner, who homered and ignited the go-ahead rally with a leadoff double in the eighth inning. "The season has been kind of rough. We had high expectations, got off to a slow start and kept following the routine. We knew we were a good team from the beginning. Today we finally put it together and showed what we could do."

After his double, Schwaner scored on a sacrifice fly by Jerad Comarda to break a 3-3 tie. Rodarrick Jones came through with a run-scoring single later in the inning, his third run-scoring hit of the night.

When LSU (32-10) kept up the pressure with a run in the bottom of the eighth, UNO responded. Ryan Eden singled to start the ninth and came home on Mike Petello's double. Comarda made the score 7-4 with a base hit past a drawn-in LSU infield, scoring Petello from third.

LSU made one more push, as Blake Dean and Micah Gibbs started the ninth with singles off Kevin DeGroutolla, bringing the tying run to the plate. But third baseman Kevin Berry moved to the mound and got a double-play ball from Leon Landry, and then struck out Matt Gaudet looking to end the game for his first save.

It will be one of the sweetest memories from a season of uncertainty. With UNO's status changing, several players, and possibly coaches, are expected to leave.

"We certainly needed something good, something to hang our hats on," said UNO Coach Bruce Peddie, whose team also beat Tulane two out of three. "Like I've said all week, nothing surprises me with this group playing the Tulanes and LSUs. Unfortunately we haven't done it with the conference teams.

"These kids really needed this. It was a great pickup for them."

It was another nasty bump for the Tigers, who were clearly out of sorts coming off a three-game sweep by Ole Miss last weekend. LSU had 10 hits but couldn't put enough of them together to have a big inning against a UNO pitching staff with an 8.00 ERA coming in.

"Everybody that comes in here is going to play their hearts out and give us their best shot," LSU right fielder Mikie Mahtook said. "Tonight we didn't give them ours."

Schwaner hit his 15th homer, a solo shot in the third inning, and Jones had a run-scoring single in the second inning and an RBI double in the fourth.

UNO starter Joe Zimmerman allowed three runs and five hits in six innings and held the Tigers scoreless after the second inning.

"We've been waiting for it all year" Peddie said of Zimmerman's effort. "The kid's capable of doing it, and he gave us everything he had tonight. Really, all the pitchers came in and did their jobs for us."

LSU Coach Paul Mainieri, a UNO alumnus, was visibly disappointed in his team's effort. Starter Daniel Bradshaw had a decent outing with two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, but the bullpen allowed seven hits and four runs in the last two innings.

Mainieri said he tried to remind his players UNO was better than its record.

"Obviously they thought I was a little boy crying wolf," he said. "I knew it was going to be a tough game. It's THE game on their schedule and they wanted to play it very badly. The bottom line is we didn't.

"We're not a good enough offensive team to have half the team play well. You have to have the whole team play well. Unless you're going to knock the fences down and hit a lot of home runs, you've got to get more consistent, good at-bats throughout your lineup. We didn't do that tonight and didn't do it last weekend.

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