Northwestern State induced some soft contact from visiting No. 16 UL Lafayette in the early going Wednesday night at Brown-Stroud Field.
Unfortunately for the Demons, a large number of those less-than-hard-struck balls found holes early and often, most notably in a five-run third inning that propelled the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 10-1 victory.
“They didn’t hit many balls in that one inning, but they had 12 hits through three innings,” fourth-year head coach Lane Burroughs said. “They didn’t get another hit until the top of the ninth, but they crushed some balls that didn’t fall. That’s baseball. It’s a humbling game.
“They get fisted, capped and they find a hole, and they get their runs. Later in the game, they crush some balls that didn’t find a hole. It’s like our last out. Nick Heath crushes a ball and doesn’t find it. They took it to us.”
After Northwestern State (8-8) took a 1-0 lead on David Fry’s first-inning RBI double, the Cajuns (11-6) struck for three runs of Tim Winders (0-2) in the second inning.
Aside from a Ishamel Edwards double that was chopped down the third-base line to start the inning, the Cajuns singled their way through the three-run inning.
That was enough offense for UL Lafayette right-hander Evan Guillory (1-2), who threw six solid innings, scattering five hits and allowing only the first-inning run. Guillory struck out four and three Cajuns relievers held NSU hitless across the final three innings.
Aside from the first inning, the Demons put multiple runners on against Guillory in only one other inning, doing so with two outs in the fifth before the Cajuns right-hander escaped the jam.
“He was a weekend guy for them last year,” Burroughs said. “(UL Lafayette coach) Tony Robichaux says this is the best pitching staff he’s ever had. He’s a real guy. He’s 88 to 92 with a plus slider. That’s real stuff. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other guy. Sometimes they’re the reason. It’s not our fault. It’s not that we played bad. Sometimes it’s the guy on the mound. He’s a good pitcher, and he took it to us.”
Leading 3-1, the Cajuns put the game away with a five-run, six-hit third inning that started with a two-strike hit batter. The hardest hit ball of the inning – Nick Thurman’s RBI double to the right-field corner – produced an out when Thurman was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple.
The biggest run-scoring hit of the inning was a high chopper of a two-run double that Brian Mills dropped over the first-base bag.
Mills finished 3-for-6 with four RBIs from the leadoff spot. Hunter Kasuls added three hits and an RBI for UL Lafayette, which did not score from the third inning until scratching out a pair of ninth-inning runs.
In the interim, five Demons relievers combined on 5 1-3 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out four.
Bret Underwood collected a pair of doubles, producing the lone multi-hit game for the Demons.
NSU returns to action Friday when it starts a three-game Southland Conference series at Sam Houston State. First pitch in the series opener is set for 6:30 p.m. in Huntsville, Texas.