[Information provided by Northwestern St Athletics]
LAFAYETTE – Another touchy start by a Northwestern State pitcher enabled the opposing team to grab a lead big enough to hold onto, this time it being Louisiana-Lafayette with eight runs through three innings then holding on for a 10-8 college baseball win Wednesday night.
The loss was the third straight suffered by the Demons (14-20) as they head into a three-game Southland Conference series at Texas-Arlington. ULL improved to 17-19 on the season.
Jacob Roark, who was touched up for five runs in one-third innings on Saturday, allowed three runs on four hits in two innings on Wednesday but A.J. Funk (0-1) took the loss after he allowed three runs, all earned, in just one-third of an inning pitched. And Jamie Bittle followed with a third of an inning hurled and gave up two runs on three hits.
The Demon staff was finally able to neutralize the Cajuns' offense as Zach Winchester, Joe Scanio and Mason Melotakis combined to throw the next 4.1 innings and allowed just one hit, no runs and struckout six batters as the Demons clawed their way back into the game.
Offensively, NSU finished the game with 12 hits as 10 of those came from the top four spots in the batting order. Center fielder Drew Helenihi and third baseman Nick Hinojos each had 3-for-4 games while right fielder Will Watson finished 2-for-3 and designated hitter Colin Bear 2-for-4. Bear also had two RBI while Hinojos knocked in three.
The five through nine spot in the order finished 2-for-21 and left seven runners stranded on the bags, four of those in scoring position and two on third base in the last three innings.
The Demons jumped up with a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Helenini led off the game with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Watson and scored on a Hinojos single up the middle.
ULL tied the game with a run in the second after Almann Snowden doubled and scored on a grounder by Jace Conrad.
In the third, Helenihi once again got things going by drawing a lead off base on balls followed by an infield single by Watson to put runners at first and second. Hinojos followed up with a RBI single to right field and Bear drove in another run with a fly ball to center field that was dropped and allowed Bear to reach first. But the Demons failed to maintain the rally as the next three batters went down in order as NSU held a 3-1 lead.
The Cajuns started off the bottom of the third with a single and hit-by-pitch to put runners on first and second. A foul out to third base was followed by an infield single to load the bases and back-to-back singles to the outfield tied the game at 3-3. Snowden put ULL up 4-3 with a sac fly to center field and Conrad opened things up with a three run blast to make it 7-3. A double by Daniel Nichols followed and another single by Jordan Bourque, his second of the inning, scored a run to make it 8-3.
NSU failed to mount a rally in the next three innings but in the seventh, a three-run frame highlighted by back-to-back RBI singles from Hinojos and Bear cut the deficit to 8-6. But once again, what could've been a much bigger inning was nipped short as Bear would be left stranded on third.
Helenihi got a two-out bunt single in the eighth and moved around the bags after a Watson single and scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 8-7 but the Cajuns came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning off of reliever Carson Goldsmith to put ULL up 10-7.
The Demons had one more rally in them in the ninth after Bear led off with a double and scored on a grounder, but they weren't able to get anyone else on base and a strikeout ended the game.
ULL finished the game with 14 hits as four players collected two hits.
Kandall Mayer, the third of six pitchers for the Cajuns got the win and improved to 1-0 on the season while Hicks notched his fourth save on the season.
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