NATCHITOCHES – An inability to do the little things led to more extra-inning heartbreak for the Northwestern State baseball team Sunday afternoon.
The Demons failed to cash in on an opportunity to break an eighth-inning tie and fell 8-4 to Nicholls when the Colonels put together a four-run 10th inning at Brown-Stroud Field.
“We’re giving up free base runners in important spots,” said first-year head coach Bobby Barbier, whose team dropped to 1-3 in extra-inning games. “The free base runner in the eighth, we hit the guy on a 3-2 pitch and have a wild pitch. Then they dump one in to tie it. We created the madness that allowed them to have some good fortune. They did a good job, stuck with it, got the big hits when they needed them and took advantage of our mistakes.”
The result was Northwestern State (5-10, 1-2 Southland Conference) dropping a conference-opening series for the first time since 2013.
Thanks to Tyler Smith’s first career home run – a one-out solo shot in the sixth – the Demons were ahead 4-3 after a topsy-turvy first seven innings in which David Fry staked Northwestern State to a first-inning lead with a two-run home run.
Nicholls (9-6, 2-1) answered with a two-run third inning, tying the game when Northwestern State failed to turn a potential inning-ending double play.
Gage Teer’s two-out RBI single in the fifth gave the Colonels their first lead before Demons starter Evan Tidwell settled in and retired seven in a row, allowing the Demons to tie the game on a Nicholls error and regain the lead on Smith’s home run to right field.
Tidwell started the eighth inning by hitting Gavin Wehby on a 3-2 pitch. Wehby took second on a wild pitch from reliever Cole Langdon (1-2) and scored when Lee Clark dumped an opposite-field single inside the left-field line to tie the game.
Northwestern State put itself in position to regain the lead again off Colonels reliever Adam Tarver (3-0), who walked Spencer Goodwin on five pitches to start the Demons eighth.
After a wild pitch moved Goodwin to second, Tarver settled down and induced a popped-up sacrifice bunt attempt before striking out the next two batters to quell the threat.
“We’ve got to make plays to win the game,” Barbier said. “For the first 15 games, we haven’t made plays to win the game. You’re not just going to win. Not every game is going to be held between 0 and 2 runs and allow you to make mistakes and still win games.”
Wehby again was the catalyst for Nicholls’ decisive rally, leading off the 10th inning with a walk before Teer (2-for-4, 4 RBIs) snapped the tie with a two-run home run to left field. A two-run wild pitch gave the Colonels plenty of cushion as Tarver worked around a leadoff walk to Cade Jones in the 10th to retire the next three Demons.
Smith and fellow freshman Austin Townsend each had two hits for the Demons while Teer, Joey Morales, Alex Tucker and Troy Cahill notched two-hit games for Nicholls.
Northwestern State returns to action Friday as it travels to Oklahoma State for a three-game series with the Cowboys. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. as the Demons face their third Big 12 Conference foe of the season.
Nicholls 8, Northwestern State 4, 10 innings
Nicholls 002 010 101 4 – 8 11 1
Northwestern State 200 011 000 0 – 4 8 0
W – Adam Tarver (3-0). L – Cole Langdon (1-2). 2B – NICH, Joey Morales; Alex Tucker. HR – NICH, Gage Teer (1); NWST, David Fry (3); Tyler Smith (1). Highlights: NICH, Morales 2-3, 2B; Teer 2-4, HR, 4 RBIs; Tucker 2-5, 2B; Troy Cahill 2-5. NWST, Fry HR, 2 RBIs; Austin Townsend 2-4; Smith 2-3, HR, RBI.
Records: Nicholls 9-6, 2-1; Northwestern State 5-10, 1-2.