UNO honors Ron Maestri, takes rubber game of series over Michigan State

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NEW ORLEANS – Legendary head coach Ron Maestri got the afternoon started by firing a strike in the pregame ceremonial first pitch. The New Orleans Privateers (2-1) then turned in a late offensive surge to break a seventh inning tie in a 6-4 victory over the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday afternoon at Maestri Field.

The Privateers were locked in a 3-3 tie after Michigan State score on an RBI double with two outs by Reese Trahey. Pinch runner Brendan Regan scored from first.

New Orleans came back with patient at-bats and aggressive baserunning to grab the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Brayden Morrow got it started by drawing a walk to set the table. Morrow advanced to second on a wild pitch and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. He then broke for home and scored the go-ahead run on the second wild pitch of the inning.

Howard added to the lead later in the inning with an opposite field single which scored Salo Iza. The Privateers tallied another run in the eighth to extend their lead. Tresten Kennard doubled off the base of the wall. Antonio Gauthier came in to run and was brought home on an RBI single by Morrow.

Martin came in and got the save, his second in as many days. After a one-out homer by Adam Proctor narrowed the gap, Martin induced a ground ball that turned into the game-ending double play.

Michigan State started the scoring with a solo homer by Zaid Walker in the second. The Privateers struck back on Iza’s second homer of the year. His two-out blast to left gave New Orleans a 2-1 lead in the third. Howard went to the opposite field and plastered one off the scoreboard for his first homer of the year in the fourth inning.

Brayson Smith got the starting call and allowed one run over four innings. John Barr earned the win, his first decision of the season and his seventh in a Privateer uniform. Barr threw 1.2 scoreless frames. Wade Raburn drew two walks in four plate appearances. The save by Martin moves him into sole possession of second place on the program saves list.

Indigo Diaz struck out nine batters and allowed three runs in 5.1 innings during his Spartan debut. Justin Antoncic had two hits and an RBI. Dan Chmilewski also added two hits. The Spartans used five relievers out of the pen. Jarret Olson took the loss after conceding the go-ahead run.

“The way these guys responded these last two games is impressive. I’m proud of them and they’re showing some resiliency. We’re not playing great baseball but these guys have found ways to get it done. We still have a lot of young and inexperienced guys who are figuring some things out.”

“The defense is doing a great job and they’re playing really well. When our pitchers are throwing strikes we seem to playing pretty good defense so hopefully we continue to do that.”

“I tell you what- Pearce is making himself into a big league hitter. He’s made a great transformation this year. And the thing I love the most is he’s very coachable.”

“I felt good this weekend. It was a great confidence booster for the whole team. Michigan State is a very good team and this is a great start for us.”

“Darren and Salo have been incredible up the middle. We’re really coming together as a team defensively and we’re all just looking to keep it going.”

The Privateers remain at home on Wednesday, Feb. 20 when they face the South Alabama Jaguars. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.

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