Hot-hitting Demons return to mid-week action against Ragin’ Cajuns

LAFAYETTE – The last time the Northwestern State baseball team played a mid-week game, the Demons made sure their home fans got their money’s worth.

NSU’s 13-inning win against Louisiana Tech seems much longer ago than three weeks as the Demons return to mid-week action Wednesday night at state rival UL Lafayette.

First pitch from M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park is set for 6 p.m. The game will air on ESPN+ with free streaming audio available and the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices.

“(Playing a mid-week game) didn’t work out when we had to cancel one (at Stephen F. Austin) back-to-back with the off week we had,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “It will be good to get back out there and play again and to have some of the other arms who pitched either limited innings or didn’t pitch at all over the weekend get a chance to go out there and perform well against a really good team.”

The Demons (21-16) will return to form a bit against the Ragin’ Cajuns (26-15 entering Tuesday’s game against Southern) by starting Chase Prestwich (4-2, 5.48) in a mid-week game.

Prestwich started the Demons’ first four mid-week games of the season, posting a 3-0 record and a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings across those four starts. Wednesday will mark Prestwich’s second career start against the Cajuns as the sophomore from Frederick, Colorado, made his first career start against UL Lafayette in Natchitoches on March 1, 2022.

“He was tremendous Friday, just ran out of gas at the end,” Barbier said. “He was really good and gave us a chance to come back and win that game (against UIW).”

In the 22 days between mid-week games, the Demon offense has enjoyed a mid-season awakening.

Starting with their 8-7, 13-inning win against Louisiana Tech on April 4, the Demons are batting .313 as a team, slugging .569 and averaging 9.5 runs per game while going 7-3 in those 10 games.

“It’s a testament to our staff working with those guys a bunch and sticking with it,” Barbier said. “I’m really proud of our older guys who have had some moderate success. I think of Jake Haze now having tremendous success. Up and down the lineup, we’ve had good at-bats. We need to keep that going. It seems like the offensive era of baseball is coming back, so we need to be able to compete that way and we have shown a good job of that lately.”

Six different Demons are hitting better than .300 in that 10-game stretch, led by Haze’s .425 clip. That production, which includes 22 home runs, has come from throughout the lineup, leaving Barbier with a good conundrum to have.

“When I have to make a decision of which DH to put in there because I like all my options – that’s a good problem to have,” Barbier said. “Broch Holmes is giving good at-bats. Bo (Willis) and Bailyn (Sorensen) are giving good at-bats and coming along. All three of those guys can affect a game with their power. When you have power, it makes that pitcher pitch a little differently. It makes a pitching coach call pitches differently. It affects the game.”