Getting the first two outs of an inning wasn’t a problem for the Northwestern State baseball team Tuesday night at LSU.
The third out proved to be pesky, especially early in the game against the Tigers.
All of LSU’s runs came with two outs – including eight in the first three innings -- at Alex Box Stadium as the Tigers held off a late rally to hand the Demons a 9-5 defeat in the final mid-week game of the season.
“We did some things to allow them to have men on base to have those two-out hits, but credit them,” said second-year head coach Bobby Barbier, whose team saw its season-long, five-game win streak come to an end. “They’re a good baseball team. I never once have questioned our fight this year, and they fought back to get the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning after being down 8-0. I’m very proud of the way we fought. Now we have to put it behind us, get on a bus and head to New Orleans.”
While the Tigers (32-21) built their early lead, the Demons were unable to take advantage of several scoring chances in the early innings.
Northwestern State put runners on in every inning except the first and ninth, but the Demons (31-21) were unable to break through until the seventh inning when Lenni Kunert drove in NSU’s first run by reaching on an error.
A cadre of Northwestern State relievers quieted the Tigers after LSU struck for eight runs in the first 2 2-3 innings.
LSU strung together four singles in the first inning off Demons’ starter Tyler Pigott (1-1) while Daniel Cabrera’s two-run home run highlighted LSU’s three-run second. A Demons error played a key role in the third when the Tigers tacked on three more runs.
From there, the Northwestern State bullpen, which had pitched to a 3.32 ERA through the first 51 games of the season, turned in four consecutive scoreless innings led by 1 1-3 shutout innings each from Cullen McDonald and Reed Michel.
Donovan Ohnoutka (2-3 innings) and Robert Burke (1 inning) also turned in scoreless relief outings.
“Reed and Cullen both threw the ball extremely well,” Barbier said. “Throwing the ball well is about executing pitches. I thought (Pigott) in the first inning gave us some weak contact in the first inning. That’s what we have to understand – it’s not about the results of it. It’s about how we execute the pitches.”
After going scoreless against Matthew Beck (2-1), Caleb Gilbert and Brandon Nowak in the first six innings, the Demons nicked Will Reese for a run and then put together a four-run eighth inning against three Tigers relievers.
Back-to-back, one-out doubles from Kelsey Richard and Sam Taylor started the big inning, which included David Fry’s 249th career hit and his 152nd career RBI. Fry stands second in NSU history in both career categories.
J.P. Lagreco’s two-run single with the bases loaded pulled the Demons within three before Austin Bain relieved Clay Moffitt and recorded an inning-ending strikeout.
Bain then retired the Demons in order in the ninth to collect his fourth save.
Fry (2-for-4) and Kwan Adkins (3-for-5) each had their 22nd multi-hit games of the season while Bain led LSU’s 13-hit attack with a 3-for-5, two-RBI performance.
“We had better at-bats later in the game,” Barbier said. “We had guys get in there and have good at-bats. Sam Taylor had two good at-bats. He’s been out for a while with an injury. It was good to see him get in there and have some good at-bats.”
The Demons return to action Thursday when they open the final weekend series of the season at Southland Conference foe New Orleans. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at Maestri Field.