Demons run-rule HCU to earn split of doubleheader

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SUGAR LAND, Texas – There was some fight left in the Northwestern State baseball team Sunday afternoon.

The Demons put together their best all-around performance in the nightcap of a neutral-site doubleheader at Constellation Field, run-ruling Houston Christian, 16-5, in seven innings to split the twinbill and salvage a game of the series.

“We swung the bats all weekend, and we played good defense the last two,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “The first one (Friday), we didn’t play much defense. It was good to see the position players carrying us a little big. We’ve got to compete a little bit better on the mound. I thought it was impressive – doubleheader day, losing the first two on the road – to get a two-run lead and give it up right away. You could take a step back and fold your tent. We came back and put together two crooked numbers to fight with them. It was good to see our fight.”

The Demons (19-15, 5-4) roared to their lone victory of the weekend after dropping the first game of the doubleheader 14-7.

NSU saw the 2-0 lead it built on a hit batter, a throwing error, a Michael Dattalo sacrifice fly and Daunte Stuart’s RBI groundout erased by a four-run HCU (8-23, 5-4) second inning.

From there, the Demons flipped the Game 1 script and rolled to their second run-rule victory of the season.

In the opener, the Huskies erased a 5-0 NSU lead by scoring nine runs from the second through the fourth innings, using three-run home runs from Logan Letney in the second and Dylan LaRue in the third to overcome Daunte Stuart’s first-inning grand slam.

The Demons rallied within 9-6 on Michael Dattalo’s solo home run leading off the seventh, but HCU Chad Ricker escaped further damage by striking out a pair of Demons with the bases loaded to maintain the three-run advantage.

In the nightcap, once the Demons started scoring, they continued to pile on the runs.

Dattalo opened a six-run third inning with a two-run home run off HCU starter Will Ripoll (0-2) to tie the game. Five batters later, with Ripoll one pitch away from keeping the game tied, Bailyn Sorensen put the Demons ahead to stay, dumping an RBI single to left field.

While Northwestern State started the scoring with Dattalo’s second home run in as many games, small ball extended the Demons’ lead.

Jacob Farrell followed Sorensen’s single by laying down a bunt that HCU catcher Luke Bard fired into right field for a three-base error that scored two runs and put Farrell at third. Jeffrey Elkins beat out a bunt single to cap the scoring and give NSU an 8-4 lead.

Alex Makarewich worked a scoreless third before the Demons gave him five more runs an inning later – again starting the crooked-number inning with a two-run home run. This one came from Jake Haze, who followed his first career home run Friday with a two-run blast to right field to drive Ripoll from the game.

NSU tacked on three two-out runs against reliever Jarek Wells, who walked three and hit another batter while not recording an out.

“Offensively, we did great all weekend,” Barbier said. “We competed well in the strike zone and got the big homers when we needed them. Mikey’s homer was huge today to tie it back up. We’ve got to keep it going, get back home and regroup and look at the things we need to do better and get ready for the weekend.”

Andrew Cossio (1-0) picked up the win with two innings of one-run relief while Gus Collins closed out the game with a scoreless seventh inning.

Dattalo (4-for-9, 5 RBIs) and Stuart (4-for-8, 5 RBIs) paced the Demon offense, which recorded 26 hits in the doubleheader and 42 in the three-game weekend series.

NSU returns to action Friday when it hosts Incarnate Word at 6:30 p.m. in the opener of a three-game Southland Conference series.

Houston Christian 14-5, NSU 17-16
Game 1
NSU 410 000 101 – 7 13 0
HCU 043 200 05x – 14 11 0
W – Rye Gunter (1-2). L – Drayton Brown (2-5). S – Chad Ricker (1). 2B – NSU, Jeffrey Elkins. HCU, Reed Chumley, Dylan LaRue. HR – NSU, Daunte Stuart (7), Michael Dattalo (2). HCU, LaRue (4), Logan Letney (1), Diego Davila (3). Highlights: NSU, Elkins 2-5, 2B; Dattalo 3-5, HR, 2 RBIs; Gray Rowlett 2-4, RBI. HCU, Samuel Benjamin 3-5, RBI; Chumley 2-4, 2B, RBI; LaRue 2-5, 2B, HR, 5 RBIs; Letney 2-3, HR, 3 RBIs.

Game 2
NSU 206 520 1—16 13 0
HCU 040 001 0 – 5 4 2
W – Andrew Cossio (1-0). L – Will Ripoll (0-2). 2B – NSU, Daunte Stuart 2, Jake Haze, Bailyn Sorensen. HR – NSU, Michael Dattalo (3), Jake Haze (2). HCU, Dylan LaRue (5). Highlights: NSU, Gabe Colaianni 2-5, 2 RBIs; Stuart 3-4, 2 2Bs, RBI; Haze 2-4, HR, 2 RBIs; Sorensen 2-4, 2B, 3 RBIs.
Records: Northwestern State 19-15, 5-4; HCU 8-23, 5-4.

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