Demons’ push late in Game 1 before Ducks finish doubleheader sweep

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EUGENE, Oregon – The Northwestern State baseball team’s middle day of its three-day, four-game series at Oregon started with snow flurries that delayed the first pitch of Saturday’s doubleheader.

It ended in a flurry of runs by the Ducks, who survived a Demon rally in the first game before taking an early lead in Game 2 to sweep the twinbill 12-7 and 13-3 at PK Park.

“It was a tough day,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We can get upset about it and emotional and blame things, or we can understand what it was and respond to it. That’s what we talked to them about after the game. I don’t think execution was as poor as the score indicated, especially on the mound. We threw the ball fine. They did a really good job. Everything they put a barrel on seemed to find grass or go over the fence.”

The Demons (13-10) started quickly in Game 1 as Jeffrey Elkins homered on the first pitch of the game for NSU’s third leadoff home run in its past seven games. Elkins has two of those leadoff blasts and his 27 career home runs are tied for fifth in school history with Terry Joseph.

Elkins’ shot off Logan Mercado (2-0) was all the Demons could muster against the Oregon right-hander until Bailyn Sorensen’s solo home run in the sixth. By then, the Ducks (14-7) had built a 7-1 lead after scoring in the first three innings.

Oregon tied the game on a two-out Sabin Ceballos double in the first and took the lead an inning later on Rikuu Nishida’s RBI groundout off starter Alex Makarewich (2-1).

The Ducks added four more runs in the third, taking advantage of a Demon error and a two-run double inside the third-base bag by Josiah Cromwick.

Oregon’s advantage grew to 12-2 entering the ninth inning of Game 1 before the Demons’ offense awakened.

After Jackson Pace retired the first two Demons in the ninth, Sorensen started a five-run rally with the first of back-to-back walks. Following Jeffrey Elkins’ walk, Daunte Stuart, Michael Dattalo and Gray Rowlett hit consecutive singles to pull the Demons within seven.

Following a hit by pitch by Broch Holmes, Gabe Colaianni dumped a two-run single into right, cutting the deficit to five and driving Pace from the game.

Left-hander Ian Umlandt entered to face Jake Haze, who drove a liner toward the left-center field gap that Tanner Smith laid out to rob Haze of extra bases and secure the Ducks’ second straight win in the series.

“There’s no give-up in this group,” Barbier said. “It’s a group that got hit in the mouth a little bit by a good offense.”

The Ducks kept NSU from building on that momentum in the second game, putting up six runs in the first inning.

Chase Prestwich (4-1) struck out three in the opening inning but two of the three reached on wild pitches and passed balls to extend the inning.

The Demons put together the majority of their Game 2 offense in the fifth inning on RBI singles by Bo Willis and Gabe Colaianni, but the Ducks’ two big innings – the six-run first and a four-run fourth – made another Demon comeback a challenge.

“They’ve been white-hot,” Barbier said of the Ducks. “It started last weekend with them scoring a lot of runs in the last two games against Washington State. They have a good feeling going on over there, and we have to do a really good job of coming out and playing really hard (Sunday).”

The series concludes Sunday at 2:05 p.m. Central. Right-hander Drayton Brown (1-2, 6.83) will start for Northwestern State while Oregon has not announced a starter.

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