Demons set to host SFA

It has taken nearly two weeks, but the Northwestern State baseball team will finally play a repeat opponent Tuesday night – seven games into its 2023 season.

The Demons face Stephen F. Austin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, approximately 48 hours after the Lumberjacks rallied for a 5-4 win against the Demons in both teams’ final game of the Sugar Land Space Cowboys Collegiate Classic. The game will air on ESPN+.

“It will be good to see them again,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Our staff won’t have to put together a new scouting report, but it means taking notes within (Sunday’s) game is a little more important.”

The loss to Stephen F. Austin (3-5) was the only one the Demons (3-4) suffered this past weekend in Sugar Land, Texas, at Constellation Field where NSU made four Southland Conference Tournament appearances from 2015-19.

Even in the one-run defeat, the Demons had their chances. NSU outhit Stephen F. Austin 13-10 but left 13 runners on base.

“We had our chances to build a bigger lead early, and credit to them, they strung together some hits and hit a home run,” Barbier said. “When you look back at the weekend, we had (35) hits. It was a very good response for our guys from a tough first weekend.”

Northwestern State set season highs in hits in each of the three games in Sugar Land – 10 against Seton Hall and 12 against New Mexico State before recording 13 against SFA – and played errorless baseball in all three games. As a result, the Demons improved their team batting average by 72 points.

The Demons will turn to sophomore right-hander Chase Prestwich (0-0, 4.50) to start Tuesday night’s game. It marks the second straight mid-week start for the Fredrick, Colorado, native.

Prestwich worked five innings against LSU-Alexandria a week ago, earning a no-decision after retiring the final 13 Generals he faced. He will square off against SFA left-hander Carter Hines (0-1, 13.50) as Prestwich makes his third career start – all at Brown-Stroud Field.

“Mid-week games are always interesting,” Barbier said. “Once you get into conference play, you’d like to have your best arms available out of the bullpen, even if they start a mid-week game. At some point, though, to win a tournament, you’re going to need a fourth starter. That’s what we want is for Chase to be our fourth starter if things continue to go the way they have.”