Demons break out early, cruise past LSU-Alexandria

The Northwestern State baseball team ended its longest homestand of the season with a near letter-perfect victory.

The Demons’ 12-3 win against LSU-Alexandria on Tuesday night could not have followed seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier’s plan any better.

Six Northwestern State (13-7) pitchers combined to limit the visiting Generals to five hits, and the Demons extended an early lead as NSU finished its season-long homestand with a 7-1 record.

“We’ve pitched it well in the early part of the season,” Barbier said. “When you do that, starters go deep in games, and you get some relievers who get hot and you rely on them when the games are tight. We’ve had a lot of that. It was good to see some of those guys go out and compete.”

Before Tuesday night’s designated short start by Ethan Francis (1-0), a Northwestern State starting pitcher had worked five innings or more 17 times in the Demons’ first 19 games.

Francis went two innings Tuesday night, allowing one run and striking out three to earn his first win of the season. The senior right-hander from Miscouche, Prince Edward Island, Canada, started a parade of NSU pitchers who limited the Generals to one run in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

The NSU offense held up its end of the bargain, putting together four multi-run innings including a three-run fourth and a four-run fifth that put the game out of reach. That performance stood in stark contrast to the teams’ earlier meeting this season when the Demons scored one run in five different innings and held on for a 5-4 win on Feb. 21.

“We extended the lead, which was good to see,” Barbier said.

Freshman Michael Dattalo helped key the early surge, collecting his first career four-hit game and driving in three runs in his first four at-bats.

Dattalo singled home Daunte Stuart, whose first-inning triple scored Jeffrey Elkins, to cap a two-run first inning. He led off the Demons’ two-run third with a double and scored on Jake Haze’s bases-loaded walk.

Dattalo again played run producer in the fourth and fifth innings, doubling home Stuart in the fourth and singling home Elkins in the fifth. Through the first 20 games of his NSU career, Dattalo has racked up 32 hits and leads the Demons with a .427 average and 18 RBIs.

“Mikey was fantastic,” Barbier said. “He’s been as mature a hitter at his age or any other age since he’s been here. When we’re down, he gets us going. We had a few bad at-bats there in a row, and he got us going with the double to start the third.”

Dattalo and Stuart (3-for-5, 2 RBIs) combined for half of the Demons’ 14 hits while 12 different NSU batters reached base.

The Demons had four players make their NSU debuts Tuesday night – all in the seventh inning. Left-hander Tim O’Connor struck out two in a scoreless top of the seventh while James Starnes singled home a run in his first career at-bat in the bottom half. Both AJ Bailey and Jardy Montgomery also saw their first action in a Demon uniform.

Northwestern State returns to action Friday when they travel to Eugene, Oregon, for their first matchup with Oregon. First pitch in the opener of the four-game series at PK Park is set for 6:05 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

Northwestern State 12, LSU-Alexandria 3

LSUA     010 110 000 – 3 5 0

NSU       202 340 10x – 12 14 0

W – Ethan Francis (1-0). L – Cameron Daigle. 2B – NSU, Michael Dattalo 2, Bo Willis, Cole Horton. 3B – NSU, Daunte Stuart. HR – LSUA, Blaise Foote. Highlights: LSUA, Dominic Thibodeaux 2-4. NSU, Stuart 3-5, 2 RBIs; Dattalo 4-5, 2 2Bs, 3 RBIs.

Records: LSU-Alexandria 15-13; Northwestern State 13-7.