Dominant Carver flirts with perfection in NSU’s shutout of Alabama A&M
NATCHITOCHES – Another weekend, another nearly historical moment at Brown-Stroud Field.
Six days after Daunte Stuart delivered a record-setting performance at Northwestern State’s home baseball field, senior left-hander Cal Carver stole the spotlight Friday night in the series opener against Alabama A&M.
Carver flirted with NSU’s first perfect game since 1964, retiring the first 22 Bulldogs he faced, en route to a three-hit shutout and a 7-0 Demon victory.
“He was fantastic tonight and flirted with being perfect until one out in the eighth,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “He was in control of the game. It was an older, mature start. The end result is great. We had some good at-bats early but couldn’t scratch out many runs, and he kept them down and let us get going on a good Friday night.”
Carver (2-1) was masterful from the start, setting down the Bulldogs (7-6) in order on six first-inning pitches, punctuated by a three-pitch strikeout of Jared Tribett to end the inning. He started the second inning with consecutive called third strikes, marking the first of three times he struck out three consecutive Alabama A&M hitters.
While Carver was posting zero after zero, the Demons (7-6) slowly chipped away at Alabama A&M starter Jackson Hall (1-1).
A run-scoring double play and the first of two RBI hits by freshman Caleb Castle gave NSU a 2-0 lead after two innings while Carver cruised.
The senior left-hander from San Antonio, Texas, struck out the side in the third inning – all on called third strikes. An inning later, Carver got Tribett on a called third strike to end the fourth inning and record his 200th career strikeout in a Demon uniform.
“I was just trying to get out of that mind-set,” Carver said of the building perfect game potential. “I was staying with the next pitch, the next batter, the next out. I was able to keep accomplishing my game plan.”
Carver continually worked ahead of the Alabama A&M hitters, not issuing a three-ball count until falling behind Tribett 3-0 with two outs in the seventh. Carver recovered to get Tribett to ground out and extend the run of perfection.
By then, the NSU offense had given Carver a six-run cushion, highlighted by a three-run sixth inning that included Gabe Colaianni’s two-run home run.
Colaianni was down in the count 1-2 before taking a breaking ball off the outside corner – a call that led to Alabama A&M coach Elliott Jones’ ejection. Colaianni fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches before depositing the third over the right-field wall.
His fifth career home run came three at-bats after Colaianni sent center fielder Chevy Dorris into the wall in right-center field to start the game.
“(Pitcher Roman Sorrell) was coming around the zone,” Colaianni said. “I was just trying to foul pitches off until I got one to hit. It was a big relief. It feels good to final get one out of the park.”
After retiring Tribett to end the seventh, Carver again went to a full count on Blake Martin before Martin grounded out to Castle at shortstop. A batter later, Brycen Hammonds lined a clean single back through the middle to end Carver’s run at Northwestern State’s first perfect game since Ronnie Arnold retired all 27 McNeese hitters in a 1964 game.
Immediately following Hammonds’ single, Carver stayed poised and induced an around-the-horn double play to end the inning, lending credence to Barbier’s characterization of a “mature” start.
“I think I have matured just from being an 18-, 19-year-old kid to being 22 and kind of the old guy on campus,” said Carver, who struck out a career-high 13 and moved into sixth place on NSU’s career strikeout chart with 205, one behind Denny Choate.
“It’s helped me keep my cool and keep my composure during tight games like that. Immediately after (the hit), I’m thinking, ‘What can I do to get us out of the inning?’”
Carver retired the first two Bulldogs in the ninth before back-to-back singles and a double steal put runners on second and third. Carver responded by getting Dorris to fly out to Colaianni in right to cap the first complete-game shutout by a Demon since Nathan Jones blanked Stephen F. Austin on April 27, 2019, in Nacogdoches.
“Cal’s been getting them out for a long time here,” Barbier said. “He’s not going to throw 95 miles per hour, but he is a really good Division I college pitcher, who hopefully gets a chance to play pro ball one day like Nate has. Just proud of him and the work he has put in since he got here. It’s a good day for him.”
The series continues Saturday with a 2 p.m. start. Right-hander Alex Makarewich (1-0, 4.50) will start for the Demons.
Northwestern State 7, Alabama A&M 0
AAMU 000 000 000 – 0 3 2
NSU 020 010 01x – 7 7 0
W – Cal Carver (2-1). L – Jackson Hall (1-1). 2B – NSU, Daunte Stuart, Jeffrey Elkins 2, Caleb Castle. HR – NSU, Gabe Colaianni (1). Highlights: NSU, Elkins 2-3, 2 2Bs; Castle 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs.
Records: Alabama A&M 7-6; Northwestern State 7-6.
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