Nicholls’ big innings deny Demons sweep

Through the first two games of its Southland Conference baseball series against visiting Nicholls, Northwestern State avoided giving up the big inning.

That did not happen in Sunday’s series finale as Nicholls used multi-run innings in the fifth and sixth innings to avoid a sweep with a 9-5 victory at Brown-Stroud Field, handing the Demons their first loss in a conference series finale this season.

“They’ve got a really good offense, and there were good hitting conditions today,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Drayton (Brown) pitched fine. He competed in the strike zone. They did a good job of finding grass and hitting some balls hard. It was one of those days where you give them a lot of credit. It wasn’t that we played poorly. They played really well.”

The Demons (23-18, 9-6) saw their four-game conference win streak come to a close in a two-inning flurry where the Colonels (24-18, 9-6) scored eight of their nine runs.

Trailing 2-1, Wes Toups started a five-run fifth inning with a single off Brown (3-6). Kaden Amundson followed with a pop-fly, hit-and-run double to right field to put runners in scoring position.

Brown, who had worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam without allowing a run in the third, could not escape in the fifth. Parker Coddou’s sacrifice fly tied the game before Xane Washington delivered an RBI double to snap the tied before Edgar Alvarez followed with his first of two, two-run home runs to put the Colonels up 5-2.

That lead was enough for right-hander Jacob Mayers (6-1), who worked around five walks in six innings by striking out eight and allowing only two hits – both solo home runs.

Bailyn Sorensen connected on the first, a leadoff shot in the third that stood as Northwestern State’s first hit off Mayers, a freshman from Gonzales. Mayers stranded Jeffrey Elkins at second after a walk and a throwing error put him there.

An inning later, Gray Rowlett gave the Demons their lone lead of the game, pulling a 3-2 pitch inside the left-field foul pole for his fifth homer of the season.

“We competed hard,” Barbier said. “I can’t imagine many better Sunday guys throwing today in the country than their guy. He was fantastic. We landed on some balls that we just missed, got underneath early in the game. That happens in baseball.”

The Colonels added three more in the sixth to build a seven-run lead that lasted until the eighth when Jake Haze’s RBI groundout cut into the advantage.

An inning later, the Demons got a two-run, bases-loaded single from Gabe Colaianni with one out to cut the lead to four and put the tying run on deck before reliever Cade Evans induced a game-ending double play.

Northwestern State returns to action Tuesday when it travels to Ruston to face Louisiana Tech in the second game of a home-and-home season series. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

Nicholls 9, Northwestern State 5

NICH     020 053 000 – 9 13 2

NSU       001 100 012 – 5 6 1

W – Jacob Mayers (6-1). L – Drayton Brown (3-6) 2B – NICH, Xane Washington 2, Austin Cain, Garrett Felix, Wes Toups, Kaden Amundson. NSU, Bo Willis. HR – NICH, Edgar Alvarez 2 (6). NSU, Gray Rowlett (5), Bailyn Sorensen (6). Highlights: NICH, Washington 4-5, 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs; Alvarez 2-5, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs; Cain 2-5, 2B; Toups 2-4, 2B. NSU, Gabe Colaianni 2-5, 2 RBIs.

Records: Nicholls 24-18, 9-6; Northwestern State 23-18, 9-6.