Demons head west for four-game set at Oregon

The Northwestern State baseball team could not have picked too many farther places to visit for its first weekend road trip of March. 

The Demons, coming off a 7-1 homestand that concluded Tuesday night, open a four-game series against Pac-12 member Oregon at 6:05 p.m. Central on Friday night. The series, which includes a 2:05 p.m. CDT Saturday doubleheader and a 2:05 p.m. CDT Sunday series finale, will air on a live stream through www.GoDucks.com. Free streaming audio of all four games will be available through www.NSUDemons.comor the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices. 

“It’s good to get the guys out and play a really good team in a four-game set on the weekend, which we haven’t done before this season,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “It’s good to get the guys back away from home. I’ve never been to play at Eugene. We went to Corvallis in (20)18, but this will be a good trip.” 

The Demons (13-7) have faced just three Pac-12 members since 1999, splitting four games with Arizona (1-1), UCLA (1-0) and Oregon State (0-1) in that time. The matchup with Oregon State came in the 2018 NCAA Corvallis Regional, which Northwestern State reached by winning the first Southland Conference Tournament title in program history. 

The four-game series with the Ducks (11-7) will be the Demons’ first games in the Pacific Time Zone since that trip to Corvallis. 

Northwestern State will carry one of the nation’s top statistical pitching staffs into the matchup. Following Wednesday’s games, the Demons rank in the top 20 nationally in WHIP (1.04, 4th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.68, 6th), walks allowed per nine innings (2.95, 7th), hits allowed per nine innings (6.41, 7th), shutouts (3, 8th) and ERA (3.52, 18th).  

Individually, Cal Carver leads the nation in fewest hits allowed per nine innings at 3.23 and is third in ERA at 0.59. Right-hander Alex Makarewich holds top-25 marks nationally in strikeouts (41, 15th), fewest hits allowed per nine innings (4.5, 24th) and strikeouts per nine innings (14.19, 24th).  

Sophomore right-hander Chase Prestwich is one off the national lead in victories with four and holds top-100 marks in strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.67, 13th), WHIP (0.90, 14th), fewest walks per nine innings (1.08, 19th), ERA (1.80, 41st) and fewest hits per nine innings (6.12, 94th) while junior right-hander Drayton Brown is in the top 100 in three separate categories – strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.6, 4th), fewest walks per nine innings (1.63, 66th) and strikeouts (33, 97th).  

“They’ve worked extremely hard,” Barbier said. “Just seeing Chase Prestwich – taking him out of the role he was comfortable in and coming in and doing what he did in a different role is maturity. Obviously, Cal and Alex have been great. Fro (Kyle Froehlich) has been great in the back end. We’ve got some fantastic strikeout-to-walk numbers. Drayton Brown, he has stats like I’ve never seen. He’s given up (32) baserunners and (23) have scored. If he keeps his walks down and the strikeouts up, those things are going to work out for him.” 

Brown will get a chance to do that in an area where most of the Demons likely have never been – a benefit of a trip Barbier learned during his playing days in Natchitoches from 2003-06. 

“When I played for Mitch Gaspard, they took us to Wichita State, (Texas) A&M, different places that I had never been,” Barbier said. “It’s going to be a good trip.” 

It will also serve as the first Power Five test – and the final non-conference series of the season — for the Demons. 

Said Barbier: “When you play teams that are perceived to be in bigger conferences, the ball moves a little faster, but I think our guys will be ready.”