Demons’ late rally comes up short against UTA

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NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State baseball team got one big hit in the ninth inning Friday night.

Unfortunately for the Demons, the lack of key base hits earlier in the game proved costly as visiting UT Arlington rallied from an early deficit then held off the Demons, 5-4, in a non-conference series opener at Brown-Stroud Field.

“We had a couple of times with the bases loaded and couldn’t get it done,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “They had their inning, and we don’t punch back. We can’t think we’re going to win that game 2-0 or 2-1. They’ve got a good team. They’re going to fight. When they had their inning to make it 3-2, I thought we had some very passive at-bats and some very passive plays in the field. We’ll get better.”

Northwestern State (4-5) suffered its fourth one-run loss in the first nine games of the season in large part because it could not build on an early lead.

The Demons used a pair of triples and a pair of sacrifice flies in the first five innings to take a 2-0 lead against UTA starter Gabe Starks (1-0). Starks, an Arkansas transfer, was able to stem the tide and limit the damage later in his outing, keeping the Mavericks (3-6) within striking distance.

Northwestern State loaded the bases in the fourth inning with two outs before Starks escaped with a strikeout to hang a zero before the Demons twice loaded the bases in the fifth inning, scoring only on Broch Holmes’ one-out sacrifice fly that doubled NSU’s lead.

Those six stranded runners immediately loomed large as the Mavericks broke through against Demon left-hander Cal Carver (1-1), who handcuffed UTA on two hits through five scoreless innings.

Carver struck out five in those five innings before Matt Cavanagh drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, sparking a three-run UTA rally that was aided by a pair of Demon errors and a wild pitch. The two Demon errors directly set up Steven Saunders’ go-ahead RBI single past a diving Jake Haze at second base.

The Mavericks added single runs in the eighth and ninth innings against the NSU bullpen, runs that stood tall as the Demons launched a two-out, ninth-inning rally.

After Connery Peters struck out the first two Demons in the ninth, Gabe Colaianni singled to left and took second on a wild pitch before Gray Rowlett reached on an infield single. Freshman Michael Dattalo doubled inside the first-base bag to score both runners before Peters got a strikeout to complete his second save of the season.

“Give those guys credit,” Barbier said. “All three guys they threw out there had really good arms, lower to mid-90s with good stuff. (Dattalo’s) been fantastic. He’s been mature about things. He had a couple of bad at-bats earlier in the game but stuck with it and had a really good at-bat there at the end.”

Colaianni (2-for-5) and Jake Haze (2-for-2), who drove in NSU’s first run with a second-inning sac fly, led the Demons’ eight-hit attack while Tyson Pointer had UTA’s lone multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 and scoring twice, including the go-ahead run in the fifth.

The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m. with a matchup of right-handers. Alex Makarewich (1-0, 3.60) is scheduled to start for Northwestern State against UTA’s Bryce Hackett (0-1, 7.20).

UTA 5, Northwestern State 4
UTA 000 003 011 – 5 7 1
NSU 010 010 002 – 4 8 3
W – Gabe Starks (1-0). L – Cal Carver (1-1). S – Connery Peters (2). 2B – UTA, Ben Lumsden. NSU, Michael Dattalo, Jake Haze. 3B – NSU, Gabe Colaianni, Broch Holmes. Highlights: UTA, Tyson Pointer 2-4. NSU, Colaianni 2-5, 3B; Haze 2-2, RBI.
Records: UTA 3-6, Northwestern State 4-5.

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