Patient Demons back sharp Prestwich in rout of SFA

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NATCHITOCHES – Patience and a heavy dose of Chase Prestwich paid dividends for the Northwestern State baseball team Tuesday night against Stephen F. Austin.

The Demons drew 13 walks and took three hit by pitches from Lumberjack pitchers while Prestwich delivered his second straight stellar mid-week start in NSU’s 13-2, run-rule victory at Brown-Stroud Field.

“We got some free passes early, and it’s difficult to get into a rhythm sometimes when you’re getting the big misses,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Good to see our guys come through. Bailyn (Sorensen) got the big double to settle us down early, and Prestwich was phenomenal again. That’s two really good starts in a row for him.”

Facing the Lumberjacks (3-6) for the second time in three days, the Demons (4-4) preached patience against SFA starter Carter Hines (0-2), who had issued six walks in 3 1-3 innings entering Tuesday’s game.

Hines’ struggles with command and control surfaced again as NSU worked him for four first-inning walks, including Jacob Farrell’s bases-loaded free pass that put the Demons ahead. A run-scoring passed ball doubled the lead as Northwestern State jumped out to another quick lead against their former Southland Conference rival.

As they had done in a 5-4 loss to SFA on Sunday, the Demons led 3-0 after two innings. Two days after stranding 13 base runners against the Lumberjacks, the Demons were just getting started.

Sorensen delivered the first big hit, cracking a bases-clearing, three-run double to left-center to double the Demon lead in the third inning. Sorensen’s first double of the year scored Gray Rowlett (hit by pitch), Broch Holmes (walk) and Farrell (walk), all of whom reached base without the benefit of a hit.

“That jump started us,” Sorensen said. “The toughest thing is he’s spraying it around. You’ve got to wait on your pitch. You can’t get too big at times. You’ve got to stay within your game plan.”

While seven SFA pitchers combined to issue 16 free bases, Prestwich (1-0) turned in another quality mid-week start.

One week after retiring the final 13 batters he faced against LSUA, Prestwich spun five shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out six.

“There’s something different about Chase this year,” said Sorensen, a classmate of Prestwich. “He carries himself differently this year. Like he said, he’s commanding his off-speed better this year, which helps him put the fastball wherever he wants it.”

As Prestwich cruised, the Demon offense did not let up, scoring in each of the first five innings and in six of its eight at-bats, culminating in Jake Haze’s bases-clearing, eighth-inning double that invoked the mercy rule with two outs in the eighth.

“That was a big knock at the end by Jake,” Barbier said. “He’s come off the bench and gotten hits for us a couple of times when he hasn’t started like he wants to. We talked about having to earn walks. With two strikes you have to fight. I thought Farrell and a couple of other guys early did that. You have to be able to win different ways.”

Daunte Stuart had the Demons’ lone multi-hit game, going 2-for-2 as Northwestern State outhit the Lumberjacks, 7-6. Stuart reached base all four times – one of three Demons to reach base at least three times. All told, 12 different Demon hitters reached base on a night where they drew 10 or more walks for the first time since taking 12 against Lamar on March 15, 2022.

The Demons return to action Friday when they open a three-game series against UT Arlington at Brown-Stroud Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

Northwestern State 13, Stephen F. Austin 2, 8 innings
SFA 000 001 10 – 2 6 0
NSU 213 130 03 – 13 7 1
W – Chase Prestwich (1-0). L – Carter Hines (0-2). 2B – SFA, Peyton Parker, Cody Fleisher. NSU, Bailyn Sorensen, Jake Haze. Highlights: SFA, Clayton Loranger 2-4; Parker 2-3, 2B, RBI. NSU, Daunte Stuart 2-2, RBI.
Records: Stephen F. Austin 3-6; Northwestern State 4-4.

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