HOUSTON – After surrendering a late lead in the opener of Friday’s Southland Conference doubleheader at Houston Baptist, the Northwestern State baseball team faced a situation it has become familiar with this season.
This time, the Demons came up with an emphatic affirmative answer.
Cade Jones hit for the cycle and Evan Tidwell tossed eight strong innings as the Demons earned a doublehader split with a 9-3 victory in the nighcap of the twinbill with the host Huskies. Houston Baptist won the opener, 4-2, with a pair of two-run innings in the seventh and eighth.
“I’m so proud of them,” first-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We had the game in hand until the seventh inning of the first one when they dump one in to get two runs. It’s easy to lay down. It’s 90 degrees out here. It’s hotter than it has been. To have our guys stick with it and fight back was great.”
Senior Matthew Alford erased any potential bad feelings from the first game when he drilled his fifth home run of the season – a three-run shot to left field – off Christian Thames (6-2) in the first inning.
Unlike the first game when the Demons scored two first-inning runs and did not score again, Northwestern State (16-26, 6-14) kept the pressure on offensively.
Northwestern State put up another three runs in the second inning and Jones highlighted a three-run fourth inning with a two-run home run that ended Thames’ day.
Thames entered the game with a 2.78 ERA, but the Demons tagged him for eight runs and eight hits in three-plus innings.
While Thames could not solve the Demons’ offense, senior right-hander Evan Tidwell (4-5) kept the Huskies (21-17, 13-7) off balance for eight innings.
Tidwell allowed single runs in the first, sixth and eighth innings, scattering five hits to pick up his third victory in six days. Tidwell pitched six strong innings against McNeese on Saturday and earned a win for his designated one-inning start Wednesday against Mississippi Valley State.
“You sit in the dugout and wait and you get a three spot, that feels good,” said Tidwell, whose 224 2-3 career innings rank 10th in NSU history. “It was easy going out there and filling up the zone. The defense played really well today.”
Jones capped a 5-for-9, four-RBI performance with his first career cycle. The junior left fielder singled in the first, tripled home a run in the second, homered in the fourth and finished the cycle with a double in the eighth inning.
Jones’ final hit one-hopped the fence in right center, and he had no designs of putting together his second two-triple game of the week.
“Not at all,” Jones said of giving any thought of going to third. “It was the second game of a doubleheader. I didn’t have the juice. We saw the ball really well, put up some runs and helped Tidwell out.”
The Demons jumped on Thames in much the same manner they did Huskies game one starter Addison Russ.
NSU tagged Russ with three doubles in the first inning, staking Nathan Jones to a 2-0 lead.
Russ settled in and then matched Jones through the seventh with each pitcher allowing two runs in that time.
The Demons loaded the bases in the eighth inning but were unable to convert against Houston Baptist closer J.T. Newon (5-0), who worked two scoreless innings to earn the win.
Meanwhile, the Huskies scratched out two runs against Tim Winders (1-3) in the eighth, posting their second straight two-run inning to grab the win and end NSU’s two-game win streak.
The series concludes with a single game Saturday at noon. The Demons will send right-hander Cullen McDonald (0-1, 4.41) to the mound against Houston Baptist right-hander Dan Endsley (2-2, 1.66). The game can be heard on 100.7 FM KZBL in Natchitoches.
Houston Baptist 4-3, Northwestern State 2-9
NSU 200 000 00 – 2 10 1
HBU 000 000 22x – 4 8 0
W – J.T. Newton (5-0). L – Tim Winders (1-3). 2B – NSU, Spencer Goodwin, David Fry, Cade Jones, Regan Kaufman. HBU, Spencer Halloran. Highlights: NSU, David Fry 3-3, 2B.
NSU 330 300 000 – 9 11 1
HBU 100 001 010 – 3 6 1
W – Evan Tidwell (4-5). L – Christian Thames (6-2). 2B – NSU, Cade Jones, Caleb Ricca. HBU, Spencer Halloran 2. 3B – NSU, Cade Jones. HR – NSU, Cade Jones (2); Matthew Alford (5). Highlights: NSU, Jones 4-5, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBIs; Alford HR, 3 RBIs; Kwanstan Adkins 2-5; Ricca 2-3, 2B.
Records: Northwestern State 16-26, 6-14; Houston Baptist 21-17, 13-7.