Early surge lifts Southeastern Louisiana over Demons in series opener

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HAMMOND – Thursday night at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field was a study in two starting pitchers who found opposite results.

Southeastern Louisiana right-hander Mac Sceroler retired 14 straight Northwestern State hitters from the fourth through the eighth innings and made an early lead stand up as the Lions grabbed a 7-0 victory in the opener of a three-game Southland Conference series.

Sceroler (6-1) tossed eight shutout innings, scattering two hits and striking out 12.

Northwestern State starter Nathan Jones (3-5) did not fare as well. Jones allowed the first four batters of the game to score, a rally capped by the first of two Taylor Schwaner two-run home runs.

After settling in and retiring seven straight Lions, Jones hit Carson Crites with one out in the third inning. On a full count, Schwaner followed with his second home run of the game.

Sophomore right-hander Cullen McDonald relieved Jones to start the fourth inning and continued his run of success. McDonald sat down the first nine Lions (21-12, 9-7) he faced before Webb Bobo started the seventh inning with a pop-fly double that was lost in the lights.

McDonald then retired the next six Southeastern Louisiana hitters. In his past three outings, McDonald has allowed one run in 12 2-3 innings for Northwestern State (10-22, 3-10), which dropped its sixth
consecutive conference game.

“He executed pitches,” first-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We have a specific plan, and he went out there and executed. He competes on the mound, and he executes pitches he’s asked to throw. He did a good job to keep the game where it is and help us the rest of the weekend in the bullpen.”

McDonald matched Sceroler pitch for pitch through the middle part of the game, but when it seemed the Demons were ready to strike, a season-long malady again struck NSU.

Kwanstan Adkins led off the sixth inning with a deep drive to right-center field only to see Ryan Byers make a leaping catch at the top of the wall to record the out. It marked the third time this season a Demons hitter had a potential home run taken away by an opposing right fielder.

“I can’t really explain it,” Barbier said. “We lose one in the twilight, and they make a great play to rob us of a homer. It’s the way it’s been going, and we’ve got to change it.”

The Demons threatened to break through against Sceroler in the eighth when Kelsey Richard drew a two-out walk and went from first to third on an Adkins single. Sceroler ended the threat by recording his 12th strikeout of the night.

Gage Pickett worked a scoreless ninth to hand the Demons their second shutout loss of the year.

The series continues Friday with a 6 p.m. matchup broadcast on Cox Sports Television. Senior right-hander Evan Tidwell (1-4, 6.55) takes the mound for Northwestern State against Southeastern Louisiana right-hander Corey Gaconi (2-3, 3.13).

Southeastern Louisiana 7, Northwestern State 0
NSU 000 000 000 – 0 3 0
SLU 402 000 10x – 7 5 0
W – Mac Sceroler (6-1). L – Nathan Jones (3-5). 2B – SLU, Webb Bobo. 3B – SLU, Jacob Seward. HR – SLU, Taylor Schwaner 2 (12). Highlights: SLU, Schwaner 2-4, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs.
Records: Northwestern State 10-22, 3-10; Southeastern Louisiana 21-12, 9-7

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