GREATEST MOMENTS | Baseball maestro Ron Maestri led New Orleans to a CWS first


New-Orleans-greatestIn 1984, Ron Maestri led New Orleans where no Louisiana college baseball team had gone before.

And Louisiana schools have more appearances in the College World Series (21) than every state except California (80), Texas (57), Florida (54) and Arizona (48).

LSU has made 17 appearances, winning six championships, followed by Tulane with 2 and Louisiana-Lafayette and New Orleans with one apiece.

But the Privateers were first from the Bayou State.

They beat Appalachian State (1-0), North Carolina (13-6), South Carolina (6-5) and Mississippi State (6-3) to win the South II Regional in Starkville, Miss. Their only loss in the double-elimination tournament was to regional host Mississippi State, 11-4, in their second game.

After a 6-3 loss to eventual national champion Texas in their CWS opener, the Privateers scored the sports moment judged the greatest in school history. In an elimination game, the Privateers pounded Michigan, 11-3, at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

Freshman pitcher David Lynch struck out nine and shut out the Wolverines through seven innings. Mark Higgins hit a grand slam in a seven-run fourth inning that gave the Privateers an 8-0 lead.

New-Orleans-Ron-Maestri“Whenever you get good pitching and play good defense on the same day,” Maestri said after the game, “anything else is icing on the cake.”

New Orleans was eliminated in an 8-7 loss in 10 innings to Oklahoma State. The Privateers scored five runs in the third inning on two hits, including Scott Raziano’s home run to take a 6-0 lead. But the Cowboys rallied to tie the game twice before winning on a walkoff homer.

But three players from that Privateers team went on to Major League Baseball careers — Higgins, Wally Whitehurst and Jim Bullinger.

Following an administrative career, including eight as executive director and chief operating officer of the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs, Maestri returned to the Privateers as baseball coach 2014. He retired following the 2015 season with a 543–325–1 career record, including runner-up in the 1974 NCAA Division II College World Series.

UNO named the baseball stadium Maestri Field when it opened in 1979.

• New Orleans Hall of Fame

On the cover and above: Ron Maestri led New Orleans to two College World Series — Division II in 1974 and Division I in 1984. (Courtesy UNO Athletics)

Monday: New Mexico State and New Orleans
Tuesday: Nicholls and UNC Asheville
Wednesday: UNC Greensboro and UNC Wilmington
Thursday: North Dakota and Northeastern
Friday: Northern Illinois and Northern Kentucky

Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.