By Jason Pugh, Northwestern State Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
MONROE – The one really big hit the Northwestern State baseball team needs to unlock its offense continues to elude the Demons.
Quiet for most of Wednesday night’s non-conference matchup at ULM, the Demons scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning before falling, 5-2, at Warhawk Field.
Former Benton star Cameron Horton, a graduate transfer who played the last two seasons at ILM, finished 2-for-4 with a triple as the Demons managed three hits, two of which went for extra bases.
After being held to one hit through seven innings, the Demons (1-3) took advantage of a pair of hit batters and a Warhawk error to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth inning.
Daunte Stuart cashed in, driving in a pair of runs with a double to cut the ULM (1-0) lead to three. However, a shallow fly ball, a pickoff and a strikeout kept the Demons from pulling any closer.
While NSU started slowly offensively, ULM had no such issues in its season opener as Mason Holt homered off Josh Banes (0-1) as part of a two-run first inning.
Banes settled in and allowed only an unearned run across the next three innings, going four innings and allowing three runs (two earned) while walking two and striking out three.
“I thought Josh gave us a good start,” fifth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “He did a good job executing pitches against a tough lineup.”
After Banes, the Demons used four more pitchers – three of whom recorded scoreless outings.
Evan Daigle (1 1-3 innings), Ethan Francis (one inning) and Drake Smith (one inning) all kept the Warhawks off the board, keeping NSU within striking distance.
Following their eighth-inning rally, the Demons were in position to tie the game, thanks to a two-out, ninth-inning push.
Horton tripled with two outs before Lenni Kunert was hit by a pitch for the third time. However, Reid Goleman struck out Jeffrey Elkins to seal the victory for the Warhawks.
“We showed some fight at the end, but we need to have better at-bats earlier in the game,” Barbier said.
Northwestern State returns to action Friday night at 6:30 as it hosts Tarleton in its home opener at Brown-Stroud Field.
— Featured photo by Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services