Squeeze bunt lifts Northwestern State to finale, series win against Southeastern

Northwestern State’s Kayla Roquemore sprinted home from third base Saturday, knocking the ball loose from Southeastern pitcher Tanner Wright on an attempted tag to score the winning run in the 10th inning.

Roquemore’s game-ending run lifted the Lady Demons to a 4-3 finale win on a Maggie Black bunt, securing the sweep of SLU after the Lady Lions won all four meetings in 2018.

“I was just excited that I got to do my job, and when the opp presented itself, I was all in and was ready t win for my team,” Black said. “I got two balls (in the count), and (NSU coach Donald Pickett) gave me the squeeze sign.

“I knew wherever the pitch came in, I was going to get the bunt down.”

NSU (18-16, 9-3 Southland Conference) extended the game with a seventh-inning run before Roquemore’s run handed the Lady Demons their second series sweep this season. Roquemore was initially ruled out, but after a conference at the plate, NSU coach Donald Pickett left fist-pumping as the NSU dugout emptied onto the field.

“We got the squeeze bunt down, and (Wright) dropped the ball, and that ended it for us,” Pickett said. “We got a break there, but we definitely fought hard, and I’m proud of these girls getting the sweep today.”

Roquemore pinch ran for Alexis Perry, who led off with a single. An E.C. Delafield hit-by-pitch and a Riley Cantrell sacrifice bunt moved two runners into scoring position before Black laid down the bunt to score Roquemore.

After the win, NSU players lifted a broom and the inaugural Cypress Trophy, which they earned in Friday’s sweep.

NSU relievers Bronte Rhoden and Samantha Guile each pitched four scoreless innings to give the offense time to scratch across a pair of runs.

Guile (6-7) got the win after scoreless innings from the seventh to the 10th, including working around a lead-off double and one-out triple to keep the Lady Lions off the board. Guile has three wins this week, and her six wins this season tops her total in two previous seasons at Southern Utah.

Guile allowed just a walk and three hits in four innings.

SLU pitcher Tanner Wright was cruising for a win until the Lady Demons struck in the seventh inning to force extras.

A two-out error extended the game and allowed Cayla Jones (two runs scored) on base. Hayley Barbazon walked and Kaitlyn St. Clair singled in the tying run.

“I struggled earlier in the game, but I knew we needed something to keep the game going,” St. Clair said. “I was confident I could get it done, and I’m happy that it fell in there.

“We fought the whole game, and it’s great to come out on top in games like that.”

Wright (5-4), who had surrendered just three hits in the normal seven innings, allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits, three walks and three hit-by-pitches in the loss.

The Lady Lions struck in the first inning on an Ella Manzer RBI single, scoring an unearned run after an error.

NSU responded with an unearned run of its own as Barbazon (1-for-2, three walks) scored on an error to tie the game 1-1.\

SLU chased NSU starter E.C. Delafield in the third inning when Rebecca Skains doubled in two runs after two Lady Lions singled.

Down 3-1, Rhoden entered in the third inning and tossed four scoreless innings with just three hits and one walk allowed.

“We scattered their hits and even though they got quite a few more hits (11 to six), we threw a couple of runners out, which was huge,” Pickett said. “We made good defensive plays.

“We had a hard time adjusting to their pitcher (Wright), but we finally got on her and got some big hits when needed.”

CREDIT: Arief Harlan/Southeastern Louisiana