Demons’ Keller connection leads NSU past Incarnate Word

The local chapter of the Keller High School Alumni Association held a powerful reunion Saturday afternoon at Brown-Stroud Field.

Northwestern State’s trio of Keller alums all delivered pivotal performances as the Demons evened their Southland Conference series with Incarnate Word at a game apiece with a dominant 10-4 victory.

“It was a good complete win for us,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We needed someone to come out and set the tone right away after the way yesterday’s ended. It was a good ball game that didn’t end great for us. Alex (Makarewich) came out and did that for us, and we had some good at-bats. I think of Mikey (Dattalo’s) at-bat in the first and Jake (Haze) with the home run to extend it early.”

Makarewich (4-3) was dominant across six one-run innings, allowing just two singles while striking out eight. A junior right-hander from Keller, Texas, Makarewich matched his career high with 102 pitches while working six innings for the first time since a March 11 win against Alabama A&M.

Three of Makarewich’s strikeouts came in a tone-setting first inning in which he worked around a one-out walk to Alec Carr to post a scoreless frame.

“A tough loss last night that goes to extras and doesn’t go your way, but I know the guys are behind me and are going to put up runs like they did last night,” Makarewich said. “I’m just trying to go out there and put ourselves in the best position to win as possible.”

Fittingly, it was Dattalo who drove in the first run of the game.

A freshman from Keller, Dattalo shook off a tough opening night to drill an RBI double to right-center off Isaiah Zavala (6-1) to start the Demons’ ninth double-figure scoring effort of the season. Dattalo finished 3-for-4, capping his day with a solo home run leading off a three-run eighth inning.

It was Dattalo’s third home run in four games, slightly ahead of Haze’s pace. Haze’s first-inning home run was not only his first career home run at Brown-Stroud Field but his third in the past five games.

“It’s always fun when all three of us play and when all three of us get to excel,” Dattalo said. “(Makarewich) set the tone for everyone to have a good day. Three home runs in four games is something I’ve never done in my life.”

While Dattalo started the scoring, the middle member of the Keller trio – sophomore first baseman Gray Rowlett – capped it with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, giving him the first multi-home run game of his career.

Rowlett, who also drilled a solo home run in the fourth inning, finished the game 2-for-4 with a career-high-tying four RBIs.

“Alex is a year above me, so I played with him a little bit,” Rowlett said. “Mike and I both went to state my senior year while he was a junior. We’ve got that connection between us. I’ve been in a slump the past three weeks, and Coach B (Barbier) came up to me and said, ‘Just do the swing you know how to do. Once you see that fastball, just turn and burn and see what it does.’”

Armed with an early lead, Makarewich made it stand up, holding UIW scoreless until Wilson Ehrhardt’s two-out RBI single in the fifth inning. The Demons (20-16, 6-5) quickly answered in their half of the fifth with a Rowlett sacrifice fly and Bailyn Sorensen’s RBI double providing one of three multi-run innings for Northwestern State, which won the middle game of a conference series for the first time this season.

Makarewich and relievers Tyler Bryan and Gus Collins combined to limit UIW (22-17, 9-5) to just four hits while the Demon offense produced 12 hits – five between Dattalo and Rowlett. Haze finished 3-for-3 while Gabe Colaianni went 2-for-5.

The series concludes with a 1 p.m. Sunday matinee. UIW will send former Demon right-hander Micah Berens (2-1, 3.64) to the mound against NSU’s Drayton Brown (2-5, 5.96).

Northwestern State 10, Incarnate Word 4

UIW       000 010 002 – 4 4 1

NSU       300 121 03x – 10 12 1

W – Alex Makarewich (4-3). L – Isaiah Zavala (6-1). 2B – NSU, Michael Dattalo, Daunte Stuart, Bailyn Sorensen. HR—UIW, Alec Carr (11). NSU, Gray Rowlett 2 (4), Michael Dattalo (4), Jake Haze (3). Highlights: UIW, Carr 2-2, HR, RBI. NSU, Gabe Colaianni 2-5; Dattalo 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBIs; Haze 3-3, HR, 2 RBIs; Rowlett 2-4, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs.

Records: UIW 22-17, 9-5; Northwestern State 20-16, 6-5.