Contributed by: NSU Athletic Communications
NATCHITOCHES – A slow start in all three phases of the game left Northwestern State in need of another late-game rally Saturday afternoon.
This time, it never arrived.
New Orleans capitalized just enough on an early bout of wildness by Demons starter Jerry Maddox and picked up a couple of key insurance runs in the ninth inning, holding off the homestanding Demons, 5-2, in a Southland Conference matchup at Brown-Stroud Field.
“We didn’t come ready to play today,” third-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “It’s as simple as that. We didn’t come ready to play on the infield. We didn’t come ready to play on the mound. Our at-bats, we didn’t fight in them until later in the game. We have to understand we have to be a team that brings it every single day, and we didn’t do it today.”
The Demons (9-7, 2-3) fell behind early, allowing the Privateers (11-6, 2-3) to score a run without a hit in the opening inning.
Maddox nearly worked around a leadoff walk and a hit batter in the first before the Privateers took advantage of a two-out error to score on a wild pitch.
Maddox (0-1) suffered his first loss of the year, lasting two hitless innings and allowing only one unearned run to cross the plate while issuing four walks. Austin Reich followed Maddox and walked three batters in two innings, allowing single runs in the third and fourth innings as the Privateers built a 3-0 lead.
While the Demons’ first two pitchers struggled to throw strikes, Privateers right-hander Chris Turpin (3-0) retired the first 10 Demons he faced before Caleb Ricca ripped as ingle up the middle with one out in the fourth.
Jeffrey Elkins followed with an RBI double to the right-center field gap to score Ricca before Turpin settled back into his groove. Turpin scattered five hits and two runs in seven-plus innings, striking out eight.
“Credit their guy,” Barbier said. “He threw a good game. We didn’t deserve to win. When you don’t deserve to win, things like what happened in the ninth inning happen.”
Before the Privateers strung together a two-run ninth inning, the Demons saw their best chance at a third straight late-game rally come up short in the eighth.
Sam Taylor’s leadoff double chased Turpin as the Privateers turned things over to right-hander John Barr.
Barr walked Ricca and gave up an RBi single to Elkins, who matched his career high with three hits, that scored Taylor. Barr settled back in and struck out the next three Demons batters to strand a pair of runners on base and set up the game-clinching ninth-inning scores.
Elkins delivered half of the Demons’ hits.
“We let them get us out the same way over and over and over again,” Barbier said. “We’ve got be good enough to make an adjustment and understand what the pitcher is doing. We have to be better at understanding where that ball is going to be and hitting it the other way.”
The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. Northwestern State sends senior right-hander Nathan Jones (1-1, 1.80) to the mound against New Orleans left-hander Christopher DeMayo (0-1, 3.75).