Stuart’s double snaps 11th-inning tie, lifts Demons to season sweep of Louisiana Tech

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RUSTON – Extra-inning games typically take some degree of resiliency to win.

The Northwestern State baseball team again proved their ability to bounce back within a game, shaking off three errors to outlast state rival Louisiana Tech, 10-7, in 11 innings Tuesday night to complete their first season sweep of the Bulldogs since 2019.

Daunte Stuart may have epitomized the Demons’ resilient attitude as much as anyone.

Stuart’s throwing error after making a sliding stop of a seventh-inning ground ball allowed the game-tying run to score, but in the 11th inning, the junior second baseman answered back with a tie-breaking two-run double that set in motion a four-run NSU eruption.

“Deep in the ballgame, they started bringing out their really good pitchers,” said Stuart, who eclipsed the 100-RBI mark for his career with game-winning hit. “I was down in the count. All I was trying to do was get a pitch up that I could hit and put a good swing on. Luckily on 3-2, I got the pitch.”

Stuart’s bases-loaded double off Ethan Bates (3-2) gave the Demons (24-18) their second extra-inning win of the year against Louisiana Tech. NSU outlasted the Bulldogs (22-24), 8-7, in 13 innings in Natchitoches on April 4.

The Demons added two more runs in the pivotal 11th inning on a bases-loaded hit by pitch of Cole Horton and a run-scoring wild pitch.

Stuart’s miscue in the seventh was the third of three Demon errors, which led to three unearned runs.

Those free runs allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game despite managing just eight hits against seven NSU pitchers.

“We didn’t play really clean today,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We got beat up down at UL (Lafayette) in our last mid-week game and a lot of those same guys hit the mound. It was good to see them bounce back. We have three weeks of conference play left, and it was good to see some of those guys show us who we can count on.”

The four-run 11th inning made a winner of Kyle Froehlich (4-1), who struck out two of the final three Bulldog hitters following Bates’ leadoff single in the 10th. That followed a ninth inning in which Dawson Flowers bounced back from a leadoff hit by pitch to face the minimum thanks in part to catcher Bailyn Sorensen throwing out Logan McLeod out at second base on a ball in the dirt.

The Demons wasted no time taking advantage of the momentum Froehlich provided in the 10th.

Jeffrey Elkins, who drilled his fifth leadoff home run of the season, beat out an infield single to start the decisive rally and tie his career high with his fourth hit. Elkins finished the night 4-for-5 and reached base six times while moving into 10th on NSU’s career hits list (186) and taking sole possession of 10th place in career doubles (39).

“(The leadoff single) was big for me,” Elkins said. “I got three good swings off before that. Trying to win a game, I ran as hard as I could. (Shortstop Will Safford) made a good play on it, but it worked out for us.”

Three batters later, Stuart made sure the Demons converted the sixth leadoff man to reach in their 11 at-bats. NSU had stranded leadoff runners in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, including Michael Dattalo’s leadoff double off Bates in the ninth.

Stuart made those missed chances a moot point with his 42nd career double, which tied him with Kyle Shade for seventh in school history.

“He plays with a really slow heartbeat,” Barbier said. “I don’t ever worry about him moving on, and that’s hard. It’s hard for a guy to do. That comes with maturity, being here for a while, failing some, having some success and continuing to play hard. I’m really happy for him to get that knock.”

The Demons return to action Friday when they open a three-game Southland Conference road series at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Chapman Field.

Northwestern State 10, Louisiana Tech 7, 11 innings
NSU 104 001 000 04 – 10 125 3
LT 012 100 200 01 – 7 8 0
W – Kyle Froehlich (4-1). L – Ethan Bates (3-2). 2B – NSU, Jeffrey Elkins, Michael Dattalo, Daunte Stuart Jake Haze. LT, Jorge Corona, Will Safford. HR – NSU, Jeffrey Elkins (9). LT, Ethan Bates (11); Dalton Davis (5). Highlights: NSU, Elkins 4-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBIs; Gabe Colaianni 2-6; Dattalo 3-5, 2B, RBI; Stuart 2-5, 2B, 3 RBIs; Haze 2-5, RBI. LT, Bates 2-5, HR, RBI.
Records: Northwestern State 24-18; Louisiana Tech 22-24

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