Streaking Demons wrap up season series with ULM

Nearing the midway point of its season-long, eight-game homestand, the Northwestern State baseball team gets a visit from a familiar face Tuesday night.

Former Southland Conference foe ULM returns to Brown-Stroud Field for the second straight season and 17th straight non-COVID-19-affected season, wrapping up a two-game season series with the Demons at 6 p.m. in Brown-Stroud Field. The game will air on ESPN+.

“It’s an opportunity to play and to get better,” said seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier, whose team has won a season-long four straight games. “That’s what we’ve talked about the entire weekend, taking advantage of all the opportunities we get.”

While the venue is different, there will be some similarities between this matchup and the Demons’ 3-1 win in Monroe on March 8.

Sophomore right-hander Chase Prestwich (2-0, 2.00) will get the start for Northwestern State (9-6) while ULM counters with a different left-handed starter this time. The Warhawks (7-10) will send junior Hollis Huff (1-0, 1.20) to the mound after starting Brandt Corley in the first meeting.

“Chase has been really good for us,” Barbier said. “They’re going with a different guy because they had a five-game week last week.”

Prestwich was stellar against the Warhawks a week ago, working a career-long seven innings and surrendering only one run.

The NSU offense, meanwhile, came up with a pair of run-scoring doubles that gave them the go-ahead run and an insurance run. Freshman Michael Dattalo’s RBI double in the fifth inning snapped a 1-all tie before Bo Willis tacked on an extra run with a sixth-inning RBI double.

Dattalo has shined in the first 15 games of his freshman season, hitting. 389 and driving in 12 runs – both of which are second on the team. The rest of the Demon offense is picking up and joining Dattalo and Daunte Stuart (.400 batting average), backing up a pitching staff that has posted a 3.63 ERA, which ranks 31st nationally.

“We don’t get spring training,” Barbier said. “Your first at-bat is your first at-bat. We get a few weeks of practice, but we don’t get a whole bunch of that. You see guys come into their own once you get to that 40- or 50-at-bat mark. They get more comfortable. They may take a close pitch early in the at-bat because they know they’re seeing the ball a little better. We’re getting to that point where we’re giving more consistent at-bats than earlier in the season.”