Legendary coach Ron Maestri thinks LSU is built for title run in College World Series

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Ron Maestri, Paul Mainieri
Ron Maestri exchanges lineup cards with Paul Mainieri before the University of New Orleans baseball game at LSU in 2015 (Photo: Jonathan Mailhes).

A coach who has brought a team to Omaha believes LSU has a chance to for a lengthy stay in the 2017 College World Series.

Former University of New Orleans head coach Ron Maestri, who led the Privateers to Omaha in 1984, said the Tigers are a perfect match for TD Ameritrade Stadium.

“The ballpark negates power,” said Maestri. “You have to be able to pitch and play defense. LSU can certainly do that.”

Maestri said LSU has all the ingredients for defensive excellence.

“They have a centerfielder (Zach Watson), who can run down anything,” said Maestri. “Their catcher (Michael Papierski) can throw out anybody. And, up the middle with (Kramer) Robertson and (Cole) Freeman, that is a great double play combination,” said Maestri.

On Friday as the Tigers practiced at TD Ameritrade Stadium, Maestri said he texted his former player, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri.

“I just wished him good luck.”

A national championship in 2017 would be Mainieri’s second in nine seasons at LSU. Would it validate Mainieri as an outstanding coach?

“Paul doesn’t need validation,” said Maestri.

“Does he need to win two, three?” I asked.

Maestri chuckled.

“Even if he wins three, he’s still two behind Skip (Bertman),“ said Maestri.

Bertman won College World Series titles at LSU in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 2000.

Maestri said his former second baseman at UNO has the perfect perspective to coach at LSU.

“He understands that this is baseball. When you play baseball, you are going to lose some games,” said Maestri. “Two months ago, everyone was ready to bury them (LSU).”

LSU plays Florida State Saturday night in the College World Series.

“Winning that first game is huge. It sets the table for everything else,” stressed Maestri.

In 1984, Maestri’s Privateers introduced New Orleans to the College World Series. The Privateers won the Starkville Regional, beating Mississippi State in the championship game. State had future major leaguers Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Brantley and Bobby Thigpen on its squad.

“Nobody remembers what it took for us to Omaha in 1984,” said Maestri. “But there’s no doubt that getting to the College World Series was a life changing experience.”

When the Privateers returned from Starkville, the scoreboard on the Lakefront had a one line message that said everything.

The board simply said … College World Series.

“It is a great feeling to get there,” said Maestri.

“And, it is great to play in Omaha. The city has done whatever it needs through the years to make the College World Series, bigger and bigger.”

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Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

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Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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