Northwestern State beats UNO to win Southland Tournament, NCAA bid

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NSU wins SLC
(Photo: Erik Williams/Southland Conference)

SUGAR LAND, Texas – The third-seeded Northwestern State Demons took home their first ever Southland Conference Tournament championship Saturday night behind a 7-5 victory over New Orleans at Constellation Field. The Demons plated seven runs on 10 hits, coming back from two runs down and breaking a late tie to pull away for the Privateers for the 2018 title.

New Orleans struck first again with a booming triple to center field from Orynn Veillon to score Collin Morrill, followed by a wild pitch that Veillon took advantage of to sprint home for a 2-0 Privateer lead in the bottom of the first.

At the top of the second, a walk loaded the bases for the Demons with no outs, after which a Sam Taylor RBI single deep to right field scored two runs to tie the game at 2-2. A sac bunt then ground out to shortstop saw two outs put on the board but also a run scored as NSU took a 3-2 lead. Bryan Warzek’s last pitch of the game then saw a throwing error past first base bring Taylor home for Northwestern State’s fourth run of the inning.

The Demons capitalized on multiple Privateer errors in the top of the fourth after a wild pitch and two straight errors put them up 5-2.

At the bottom of the fifth, the bases loaded with the tying runs for UNO with two outs and Veillon at the plate. The junior ripped an RBI single to center field, advancing to second on the throw and plating two runs to pull within one run. On the next at-bat with a 2-1 count, a passed ball went behind home to bring home the tying run in. A fly out ended the inning as the two sides went to the sixth tied at 5-5.

The deadlock was broken atop the seventh inning when Player of the Year David Fry drove a solo homer well into the left field stands to put the Demons up 6-5 with no outs on the board.

J.P. Lagreco nearly notched a solo round tripper of his own with one out, registering a long double to the left center field wall.

A line drive RBI single by Luke Watson then sent Lagreco home. The outfield throw made its way back home with time to spare but catcher Beau Bratton had his eyes trained on Watson advancing to second and failed to see Lagreco coming down the baseline, making the score 7-5 Demons going into the bottom of the seventh.

Both sides were held scoreless through the eighth and top of the ninth, so the Privateers headed to the bottom of the ninth facing a two-run deficit.

With two outs, Darren Willis managed a single base hit and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but it was as close as New Orleans would get as Collin Morrill grounded out to second base on a full count to secure the victory for Northwestern State.

The bracket and selections for the 2018 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship will be announced Monday, May 28 on ESPNU at 11 a.m. CT. The NCAA field consists of 64 teams – 31 automatic qualifiers and 33 at-large selections. Sixteen teams will be seeded and each of the seeded teams will be placed at one of the regional sites.

Regionals for the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship are scheduled for June 1-4 on 16 campus sites. At each campus site, a four-team, double-elimination tournament will be conducted and the 16 winning teams advance to the Super Regionals, held June 8-10 or June 9-11 on eight campus sites. At each site, two teams play in a best-of-three tournament format. The winners from each site advance to the NCAA Men’s College World Series.

The 2018 NCAA Men’s College World Series (CWS) will be held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., from June 16-26/27.

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