Heisler, Elkins lift Demons to doubleheader sweep of Colonels
NATCHITOCHES – In order to complete the first doubleheader sweep of the Bobby Barbier era, the Northwestern State baseball team took two different roads Friday.
The opener was a 7-1 smooth ride behind senior left-hander Ridge Heisler before the Demons endured some twists and turns en route to a 9-7 win in the nightcap against Nicholls at Brown-Stroud Field.
“What (head coach Bobby Barbier) told them after the game was that’s not an easy situation,” assistant coach Chris Bertrand said. “First of all, any time you get two wins in one day in Southland Conference play is a huge thing. It’s a huge step forward for our team. We did it in two different ways, which was cool to see, because we’re still learning about our team. We learned a lot by watching them today.”
The Demons (18-11, 8-6) extended their winning streak to a season-long five games and are a season-best seven games over .500.
After Heisler shut down the Colonels (17-15, 8-6) in the opener, Northwestern State shook off a slow start in all phases of the nightcap with an offense that turned the corner on Sunday and has maintained that momentum since.
The Demons erased a pair of two-run Nicholls leads in the second and third innings and drove Colonels starter Jacob Bedevian from the game after 4 2-3 innings in which he threw 98 pitches.
The Demons’ three-run fifth inning knocked out Bedevian with Sam Taylor’s two-run, tie-breaking double highlighting the rally. Taylor’s clutch hit followed Lenni Kunert’s game-tying two-run double in the second inning as part of a litany of key moments for the Demons’ offense.
After the Colonels regained a 7-6 advantage in the seventh inning, Tyler Smith led off the Demons’ seventh with his second home run of the week and fourth of the season to tie the game.
Tyler Pigott (5-1), who had allowed the go-ahead run to score in the seventh, settled in and worked a scoreless eighth inning, setting up another big hit from freshman outfielder Jeffrey Elkins.
Elkins delivered the two-run double to beat LSU on March 12 added to his late-game heroics, turning on a 1-0 pitch from reliever Brandon Andrews for a tiebreaking, two-run home run that Pigott made stand up.
Elkins’ home run came after the Colonels lifted left-hander Beau Balado (1-2) in favor of the right-hander Andrews. Balado had issued a leadoff walk to Caleb Ricca to start the eighth.
“I expected them to come with fastballs,” said Elkins, who went 2-for-5 with his first career home run. “Ricca had reached base in a tie game. With his speed, he’s going to be running if they spike something in the dirt. I was expecting fastball, and he gave it to me two times in a row.”
Northwestern State pounded out 12 hits in the nightcap, reaching double figure hits for the fourth time in six games.
With the way Heisler (3-3) pitched in the opener, the Demons didn’t need much offense.
Heisler, a senior left-hander, shut out the Colonels for 6 2-3 innings on two hits before Nicholls strung together three hits and a run in the seventh.
Heisler recovered and reverted to his dominant form in the seventh before stranding the bases loaded in the eight with his sixth strikeout of the game.
“I was able to throw whatever I wanted to,” Heisler said. “Coach Chuck (Waldrep) helped me out with that. I had everything working except for the curveball. I wanted to finish what I started.”
Heisler was not needed for the ninth as the Demons added a pair of unearned runs thanks to three Colonels errors in the eighth.
Northwestern State backed Heisler with a four-run fifth inning in which Hilton Brown and Jakob Nunez notched RBI singles before Ricca’s two-run single with two outs doubled the lead against Trever Kilcrease (2-2).
Brown and Taylor had two-hit games in the opener while J.P. Lagreco went 3-for-5 with an RBI in the nightcap. Elkins (2-for-5) and Marshall Skinner (2-for-4) both homered in their multi-hit games in the finale.
The series concludes at noon Saturday. Senior right-hander Nathan Jones (3-1, 3.27) is expected to start for Northwestern State against Nicholls freshman left-hander Shane Mejia (4-0, 2.12).
Northwestern State 7-9, Nicholls 1-7
Nicholls 000 000 100 – 1 7 3
NSU 000 041 02x – 7 9 0
W – Ridge Heisler (3-3). L – Trever Kilcrease (2-2). 2B – NSU, Peyton Davis. Highlights: Nicholls, Champ Davison 2-4. NSU, Sam Taylor 2-3, RBI; Hilton Brown 2-3, RBI.
Nicholls 022 002 100 – 7 8 2
NSU 020 130 12x – 9 12 3
W – Tyler Pigott (5-1). L – Beau Balado (1-2). 2B – Nicholls, Champ Davison 2. NSU, Lenni Kunert, Caleb Ricca, J.P. Lagreco, Sam Taylor. HR – NSU, Jeffrey Elkins (1); Tyler Smith (4); Marshall Skinner (2). Highlights: Nicholls, Davison 2-5, 2 2Bs, RBI. NSU, Elkins 2-5, HR, 2 RBIs; Lagreco 3-5, 2B, RBI; Skinner 2-4, HR, RBI.
Records: Nicholls 17-15, 8-6; Northwestern State 18-11, 8-6.
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