Carver shines as Demons split doubleheader at HBU

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HOUSTON – The Northwestern State baseball team had plenty of opportunities in Saturday’s Southland Conference doubleheader against Houston Baptist.

Thanks to left-hander Cal Carver, the Demons made one of them stand.

Carver tossed a complete game in the opener of the twinbill, striking out eight including the final batter of a 3-2 victory before the homestanding Huskies used a four-run fifth inning to pull out a 6-2 win in the nightcap.

“He struggled a little bit his last start, but (today) that was him,” fifth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “He had his attitude out there. He pitched with some competitiveness. He was sharp and we needed it. We haven’t played well of late, and sometimes you need a pitcher to go win you a game, and he did that.”

Carver (4-3) spun his second complete game of the season and was in total control through the first five innings, keeping Houston Baptist (9-24, 6-13) scoreless into the sixth inning.

That was enough time for Northwestern State (16-17, 10-9) to build a 3-0 lead on the legs of Larson Fontenot and a clutch two-run single by Lenni Kunert.

Fontenot led off the game with a single, stole second, took third on a Kunert single and scored on a wild pitch to give the Demons an early 1-0 lead.

Kunert followed up his first-inning single by grounding a two-run single to right field with one out in the third inning off starter Jared Burch (2-1) to give Carver an early cushion.

Carver lived up to his name early, striking out four Huskies through the first three innings. Carver allowed just a single in that time frame but picked off Lane Botkin after Botkin’s lead-off single in the third.

“I was getting ahead with my fastball, commanding my pitches and doing my best to keep them off balance,” said Carver, who threw 109 pitches (66 strikes). “That’s a huge shoutout to (catcher Austin) Kirkpatrick back there. He does a great job calling my games.”

While the Demons had their chances to extend the lead against Burch, Carver minimized the damage, allowing a single run on an RBI groundout by Trent Franson in the sixth and another while picking off a runner in the seventh.

After Christian Dumont doubled and stole third with two outs, Carver capped the game by getting Jake Miller to chase a high fastball for his eighth and final strikeout.

“The last two weeks, I haven’t been getting ahead of hitters,” said Carver, who walked a pair in seven innings. “I made a slight adjustment out of the stretch, because I was walking a lot of guys. The work I’ve been putting in really seemed to pay off.”

The Demons could not get that same payoff in the nightcap as Jacob Coats (2-4) handcuffed the Northwestern State lineup for 7 2-3 innings.

Coats matched Demon right-hander Levi David (2-4) pitch for pitch through three scoreless innings before the Huskies scored twice on a wild pitch and a throwing error in the fourth inning.

Northwestern State answered with its biggest push against Coats as Marshall Skinner singled and Cam Sibley followed with a double to start the fifth inning.

Coats appeared to work his way out of the jam, inducing a pair of flyouts to shallow right field and second base before Jake Haze singled home Skinner and Sibley to tie the game.

That was the Demons’ lone hit with runners in scoring position in the nightcap as Coats and reliever Andrew Reitmeyer limited NSU to a 1-for-4 mark with runners on second or third.

“Sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” Barbier said. “It seemed to be a thing today. We had men on base constantly, and just not getting the big knock. That’s how you end up with five runs in a doubleheader. A lot of that stuff is guys locking in and not pressing too much in those big spots. If you talk about it too much, you can start pressing in those spots. Those guys have come through before, and they’ll come through again.”

The Huskies broke the 2-all tie with a four-run fifth inning that was aided by two of Northwestern State’s four errors on the day. HBU drove David from the game after 4 1-3 innings during which the Demon right-hander struck out nine while allowing two hits and issuing four walks.

The series concludes Sunday with a 2 p.m. matchup at Husky Field. Neither team has announced a starting pitcher.

Northwestern State 3-2, Houston Baptist 2-6
Game 1
NSU 102 000 0 – 3 7 1
HBU 000 001 1 – 2 6 2
W – Cal Carver (4-3). L – Jared Burch (2-1). 2B – NSU, Daunte Stuart. HBU, Christian Dumont. Highlights: NSU, Larson Fontenot 2-3; Lenni Kunert 2-3, 2 RBIs.
Game 2
NSU 000 020 000 – 2 6 4
HBU 000 240 00x – 6 5 0
W – Jacob Coats (2-4). L – Levi David (2-4). S – Andrew Reitmeyer (3). 2B – NSU, Cam Sibley. Highlights: NSU, Sibley 2-4, 2B.
Records: Northwestern State 16-17, 10-9; Houston Baptist 9-24, 6-13.

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