Jason Pugh, Northwestern State Assistant Athletic Director of Media Relations
LAFAYETTE – Down early or up late, the Northwestern State offense kept coming up with big hits Wednesday night.
Former Airline star Peyton Davis sparked a five-run fourth inning with a go-ahead, three-run home run and the Demons held off UL Lafayette for a 10-8 victory at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park, scoring their first win against the Ragin’ Cajuns since April 13, 2011.
“We competed really hard today,” fourth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “You get 16 hits, obviously your at-bats are good. We did a whole lot to lose the game. We didn’t play very clean on defense. We gave a few too many free passes – the things we haven’t done in the first seven games – but good teams find a way to win.”
The Demons’ recipe for success in their first mid-week game of 2020 was to rely on the offense.
After a slow start, Northwestern State (7-1) put together its best offensive game of the season, pounding out a season-high 16 hits behind a balanced lineup that saw eight starters get a hit and seven record multi-hit games.
Davis had the loudest hit, snapping a 3-all, fourth-inning tie with a long three-run home run off Jacob Schultz (0-2).
Said Davis: “I had just looked at our hitting chart and saw they threw a lot of offspeed in pitchers’ counts so when I took an 0-0 fastball, I knew they were going to their offspeed, and as long as I saw it up, I was going to try to take a good swing and stay with my approach.”
Davis’ approach capped a five-run fourth inning and followed a two-run single from Cam Sibley that tied the game at 3.
The run parade continued in the fifth as the Demons tacked on three runs and appeared headed for a comfortable victory.
However, the Cajuns (2-7) responded with three in their half of the fifth and sliced the lead to one with a pair of unearned runs in the seventh inning, the only runs against winning pitcher Levi David (2-0), who fanned five and stranded the bases loaded with a sixth-inning strikeout.
Freshman right-hander Drake Smith picked up David, getting Julian Brock to ground out and strand the tying run at third in the seventh before working a scoreless eighth inning.
Kyle Swanson pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two, to earn his second save of the season and the sixth of his career, tying him for 10th place in school history.
David, Smith and Swanson, the final three of NSU’s seven pitchers Wednesday, worked 4 1-3 innings, scattering two hits and striking out eight.
“We’re fortunate it’s non-conference right now, and we can allow those guys to stretch out and throw a little more,” Barbier said. “These games and the weekend games mean the same right now, but five games in a week is tough on a staff. You remember we played four over this past weekend. It makes it where guys have to bounce back. It’s hard early in the season for that to happen. I’m proud of those guys.”
Jeffrey Elkins made Swanson’s ninth inning a little easier, delivering a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth, scoring Davis, who led off with a double.
Tyler Smith (3-for-5), Davis (2-4), Daunte Stuart (2-5), Lenni Kunert (2-3), Marshall Skinner (2-5), Sibley (2-5) and Hilton Brown (2-4) all had multi-hit games for Northwestern State with Smith recording the first three-hit game by a Demon this season.
“This describes our team perfectly,” Sibley said. “It’s good to see guys get big hits in big situations. Big hits like we had tonight really get our team going. It puts energy in the dugout. This team has a lot of dog in I, and we showed that by going in someone else’s home and getting a big win.”
The Demons return to action Friday night when they host Eastern Illinois in the opener of a three-game series at 6:30.