Northwestern State, Lamar split offensive-minded doubleheader

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NATCHITOCHES – Saturday was a hitter-friendly day at Brown-Stroud Field, and both the Northwestern State baseball team and visiting Lamar took advantage.

The Demons made the most of their offensive opportunities in the opener while the Cardinals did so in the nightcap as the teams split a Southland Conference doubleheader.

Northwestern State took the first game, 11-7, tallying its most runs in conference play this season before Lamar collected a 16-4 win in the nightcap.

After falling behind 3-0 early in the opener, the Demons (14-14, 8-6) attacked Lamar starter Trevin Michael (2-2) with a mixture of timely hits and patient at-bats.

“We knew his slider was tough, and we had to take it down,” fifth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We did a good job laying off his slider. We put him in some tough counts. I was pleased with our at-bats (in the first game).”

Down three early, Northwestern State scored four times in the second inning, keyed by a two-run Jake Haze double that tied the game at 3.

Haze finished the opener 2-for-3 with a career-high three RBIs. It marked the fourth multi-RBI game for the freshman, who has three two-RBI games in his first season at the Division I level.

“Jake does a good job with two strikes for the most part,” Barbier said. “That’s something we’ve done better as a lineup. When you put the ball in play, a lot of good things happen.”

Lamar (14-10, 6-8) had three hits in each of the first innings against Johnathan Harmon (2-2), who limited the damage before settling in and working 5 2-3 innings to earn his second win of the season.

Harmon’s ability to minimize Lamar’s scoring allowed the Demons to take the lead for good with a four-run fourth inning, capped by Marshall Skinner’s two-run single.

Freshman right-hander Drayton Brown followed Harmon’s gritty outing by notching the final 10 outs of the game to collect his second save of the season.

Brown surrendered a two-run home run to Cole Girouard that cut the Demons’ five-run lead to three in the eighth inning.

NSU’s freshman right-hander did not let Girouard’s swing bother him too much, as Brown retired the final six Cardinals he faced. Larson Fontenot punctuated Brown’s save with a diving catch for the game’s final out.

“Johnny was tough for us,” Barbier said. “Everything they put a bat on found grass there for a while, but he was able to get into the sixth inning. That helped us a bunch. It let us go to Drayton and let him finish the game. Drayton gave us what we needed – strikes with the lead off his secondary pitch. It was good to see him settle down and get the game under control for us.”

In the nightcap, the Demons again fell behind early as Ben MacNaughton delivered a two-out RBI single in the opening inning off Cal Carver (3-3).

That lead stood until the Demons put together one of their best two-out rallies of the season to set up a three-run third inning.

Lenni Kunert shot a single through the right side as part of a three-hit doubleheader for the senior. Jeffrey Elkins, who homered in the opener, drove in Kunert with a triple and scored on an error before Cam Sibley tripled home Skinner to cap the inning.

That was all the Demons mustered against Lamar right-hander Zach Bravo (3-1), who retired nine straight NSU hitters from the third inning until Peyton Davis’ solo home run in the sixth inning.

By the time Davis’ first home run of the season landed, Lamar had a 10-4 lead thanks in large part to a five-run fourth inning.

Reigning Southland Conference Hitter of the Week, Chase Kemp, who homered in the first game, hit a grand slam to highlight the inning and put the Demons down 6-3 and end Carver’s outing after 3 1-3 innings.

Lamar added 10 runs, including four unearned runs, against three Demon relievers, ending the game in eight innings.

“We had a tough start from a guy who’s been really good for us all year long,” Barbier said. “Cal lost the strike zone a little bit in the fourth. That’s hard to overcome in the back end of a doubleheader when you have two more tomorrow. The guys who get an opportunity have to come in and execute pitches, and I don’t think we executed pitches very well. We didn’t play well overall (in the nightcap).”

The series concludes with a 1 p.m. Sunday doubleheader. Right-hander Levi David (2-2, 2.97) will start the opener for the Demons, who have not announced a Game 2 starter. Lamar will counter with right-hander Josh Ekness (0-1, 5.06) and left-hander Dylan Johnson (1-1, 1.83).

Northwestern State 11-4, Lamar 7-16
Game 1
LU 211 001 020 – 7 12 1
NSU 040 401 11x – 11 7 0
W – Johnathan Harmon (2-2). L – Trevin Michael (2-2). S – Drayton Brown (2). 2B – LU, Anthony Quirion. NSU, Jake Haze. HR – LU, Chase Kemp (8), Cole Girouard (2). NSU, Jeffrey Elkins (3). Highlights: LU, Avery George 2-5, RBI; Reese Durand 2-5, RBI; Deric LaMontagne 2-3, RBI; Girouard 2-3, HR, 2 RBIs. NSU, Jake Haze 2-3, 2B, 3 RBIs.
Game 2
LU 100 513 06 – 16 11 2
NSU 003 001 00 – 4 8 4
W – Zach Bravo (3-1). L – Cal Carver (3-3). 2B – LU, Anthony Quirion, Logan Lejeune. NSU, Daunte Stuart. 3B – LU, Ben MacNaughton. NSU, Jeffrey Elkins, Cam Sibley. HR – LU, Kelby Wyler (2), Chase Kemp (9). NSU, Peyton Davis (1). Highlights: LU, Weyler 2-5, HR, 4 RBIs; Avery George 2-5; MacNaughton 2-4, 3B, 2 RBIs; Matthew McDonald 2-4, RBI. NSU, Lenni Kunert 2-4.
Records: Lamar 14-10, 6-8; Northwestern State 14-14, 8-6.

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