Friday, June 21, 2024

College baseball: NSU’s season ends with loss to No. 1 seed Lamar in SLC tournament

by Russell Hedges
0 comment

By Jason Pugh, Northwestern State Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations; featured photo by James Stanfield, NSU Athletics

HAMMOND – On an offensively favorable Thursday morning at the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament, Northwestern State enjoyed its share of big swings.

Unfortunately for the Demons, many came after NSU found itself in another early game deficit – one top-seeded Lamar rode to a 12-5 elimination-game victory at Southeastern’s Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field.

“It’s death by a crooked number,” said head coach Chris Bertrand, who completed his first season in charge of the NSU program. “We dug ourselves a hole, but in typical fashion for us — and we’re proud of it – we continued to fight and compete and to try to find ways to battle. When you couple the crooked number and we left a lot of men on base and opportunities in the first three or four innings, it didn’t unfold in our favor. It put us behind the eight ball early.”

The Demons (22-33) found themselves behind the proverbial eight ball after an eight-run second inning from the Cardinals (42-14), who sent 12 men to the plate – the first eight of whom scored against NSU starter Dawson Flowers (4-5) and reliever Caleb Bunch.

With Lamar starter Jacob Ellis (8-1) wiggling his way out of early jams in the first and second inning, that offensive outburst was enough for the Cardinals to cruise through the middle innings after Bunch settled things down for the Demons, allowing one run across the next three innings.

In the Demons’ two tournament games, NSU allowed a total of 15 runs in the second inning and seven in the other 15 innings on the mound.

Down 9-0, Northwestern State’s “Swingin’ Demon” persona arrived.

Bo Willis’ leadoff home run sparked a three-inning surge in which the Demons connected on four solo home runs against Ellis and reliever Foster Kreuzer to cut the nine-run deficit to as little as five.

In addition to Willis’ 24th career home run – which ties him for ninth in school history with Tommy Henry – Balin Valentine delivered his team-high 10th home run of the season while former Haughton star Colin Rains added his fourth. Daniel Young’s pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning gave NSU its second pinch-hit homer since May 13 and pulled the Demons within 10-5 through eight innings.

The balls that left the wind-blown ballpark stood in contrast to opportunities earlier in the game when Braden Benton’s first-inning screaming liner went right to third baseman Ethan Ruiz to end the first inning and strand two Demons.

On the opposite side, Lamar’s first run in the pivotal eight-run second inning came on a bloop single from Austin Roccaforte that fell just over the first base bag in fair territory, setting in motion the big inning.

Valentine led the Demons’ nine-hit attack with a 3-for-5 performance while Rains and Rocco Gump each added two hits.

“I told the ballclub I was so proud of them not only for the way in which the season unfolded, but they have to know in the way we had to build and the way we will continue to build, this was a phenomenal foundation,” Bertrand said. “Year One was a great first brick of the foundation. For them, they need to learn a man is not defined by win-loss records or by the fact the last two games of the year didn’t go in our favor on the scoreboard. He’s defined on the impact he makes. They’ve made an impact on our program, and we hope the life lessons we’ve taught have made an impact on their lives.”

You may also like

About Us

Empowering Communities Through Truth and Insight: The Bossier Press-Tribune is dedicated to delivering timely, accurate, and relevant news to the residents of Bossier Parish and beyond. Guided by our motto, ‘Serving God and Our Community,’ we endeavor to be a trusted source of information and a beacon of light in the pursuit of truth and understanding.

@2022 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed byu00a0PenciDesign