Brown, Prestwich handcuff New Orleans in series finale

While the Northwestern State baseball team waited for an offensive payoff Sunday afternoon, a pair of Demon right-handers took matters into their own hands. 

Drayton Brown and Chase Prestwich each struck out seven New Orleans hitters and made an early lead stand up before Northwestern State tacked on a couple of insurance runs late for a Southland Conference series-clinching 4-1 win at Maestri Field. 

“The game wasn’t good to us early,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We had a stretch of six really good at-bats in a row and got one run, but when you have good pitching and they can keep shoving it in there, it helps. The last couple of games, an inning where they have the bases loaded has been a crooked number for them, but Chase comes in and did a really good job of shutting it down.” 

Brown (2-4) cruised through five scoreless innings, making Jacob Farrell’s second-inning, bases-loaded hit by pitch stand up, before the Privateers (15-13, 2-4) loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth inning. 

Prestwich entered and struck out Tyler Bischke before getting Tristan Moore to hit into an RBI fielder’s choice. With the tying run on third, Prestwich struck out Miguel Useche to maintain NSU’s 2-1 lead. 

“I had a lot of adrenaline going into the game,” said Prestwich, who allowed two hits and struck out seven in four innings of relief to earn his first career save. “It was a close game, and Drayton had really pitched well, so I wanted to keep pitching like we have as a team.” 

Brown allowed one run in five innings, striking out seven and scattering three hits. 

Because of its pitching, Northwestern State (15-12, 2-1) had a larger margin for error offensively. Leading 1-0 in the fifth, Gray Rowlett and Broch Holmes delivered back-to-back, two-out doubles to extend the Demon lead to 2-0 and knock Privateer starter Colton Mercer (2-2) from the game. 

Rowlett and Holmes again played a key role in giving Prestwich room to breathe in the ninth inning as the Demons closed out their third straight series win and second in as many seasons at Maestri Field. 

New Orleans reliever Beau Blanchard had shut the Demons out for 3 2-3 innings and retired the first two NSU hitters in the ninth before Rowlett drilled his second home run of the season out to left field. One batter later, Holmes did the same, launching his second home run in as many days to left field. 

“The home run was a moment you don’t really remember,” said Rowlett, who homered for the first time since Feb. 25. “I wish I could tell you what pitch I hit, but I have no clue what it was. Same thing with that double. I’ve been pretty late on the ball recently, and (Barbier) said, ‘Once you get that front foot down, fire.’ That’s what I did the last couple of at-bats, and it really helped the team.” 

Rowlett and Holmes combined for four of the Demons’ eight hits while Brown and Prestwich struck out 14 New Orleans hitters while issuing one walk that came on a borderline 3-2 pitch to Myles Austin to start the sixth inning. 

The Demons return to action Tuesday when they host Louisiana Tech in NSU’s final home mid-week game of the season. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.