Makarewich deals, bats stay hot as Demons downs New Mexico State

SUGAR LAND, Texas – Two games into the Sugar Land Space Cowboys Collegiate Classic, the Northwestern State baseball team has found a blueprint for success – strong starting pitching and timely hitting.

The Demons got a dominant start from right-hander Alex Makarewich and the NSU offense banged out double-figure hits for the second straight game as the Demons downed New Mexico State, 7-3, at Constellation field on Saturday morning.

“Alex had great stuff,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Every time we needed a zero, he gave it to us. He really commanded two pitches in the strike zone.”

Making just his second career start, Makarewich (1-0) fanned a career-high 11 batters, giving the Demons (3-3) their first double-figure strikeout game by an individual pitcher since Cal Carver struck out 11 Alcorn hitters in game one of a doubleheader on March 12, 2012.

After the Aggies (0-5) took a 2-0 lead on fourth-inning solo home runs by Gunner Antillon and Logan Gallina, the Demons answered immediately as Gray Rowlett smacked a tying two-run home run and Jeffrey Elkins delivered a two-out RBI single, driving in Broch Holmes, who followed Rowlett’s home run with a double.

“The last two games, we’ve done a good job making adjustments at the plate,” Barbier said. “Gray Rowlett gets beat with a 1-0 fastball in his first at-bat and has the big homer in his second at-bat to even it up. We’ve put together good at-bats the last two days. Give our guys the credit for sticking with it after a tough opening weekend.”

Handed a lead, Makarewich made it stand up, striking out four of the final six batters he faced across two final scoreless innings of work. A product of Keller, Texas, Makarewich worked a career-high six innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out 11.

With Makarewich rolling, the NSU offense added on for a second straight game.

Holmes tacked on a two-out RBI single in the fifth before the Demons responded to the Aggies’ third solo home run of the game with a three-run seventh inning that saw NSU take advantage of New Mexico State’s fourth error of the game. Rowlett had a sacrifice fly in the inning, finishing with three RBIs in his second game of the season.

Elkins capped the inning with an RBI single to record his first multi-RBI game of the year.

Those runs proved important as the Aggies loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning before Barbier turned to junior right-hander Kyle Froehlich. Froehlich, the winning pitcher in Tuesday’s victory against LSU-Alexandria, struck out the only two Aggies he faced to record his first career save.

“It was like Kyle has been doing that for 10 years,” Barbier said. “Gus (Collins) gave up the leadoff home run (in the seventh inning) and then settled the game down for us. Kyle came in and was dominant. He had good stuff and great tempo. He was absolutely dominant.”

Freshman Michael Dattalo led NSU’s season-high 12-hit attack , going 3-for-4 while Holmes and Elkins each went 2-for-4.

Gallina had two of NMSU’s four hits, three of which were solo home runs.

The Demons wrap up their stay in Sugar Land on Sunday when they face Stephen F. Austin. Right-hander Drayton Brown (0-1, 6.35) takes the mound for Northwestern State while the Lumberjacks have not announced a starter.

Northwestern State 7, New Mexico State 3

NMSU   000 200 100 – 3 4 4

NSU       000 310 30x – 7 12 0

W – Alex Makarewich (1-0). L – Tyler Hoeft (0-2). S – Kyle Froehlich (1). 2B – NSU, Broch Holmes. HR – NMSU, Gunner Antillon (1), Logan Gallina (1), Jimenez (1). NSU, Gray Rowlett (1). Highlights: NMSU, Gallina 2-4, HR, RBI. NSU, Michael Dattalo 3-4; Holmes 2-4, 2B, RBI; Jeffrey Elkins 2-4, 2 RBIs.

Records: New Mexico State 0-5, Northwestern State 3-3.