NATCHITOCHES – The way Cullen McDonald pitched Sunday afternoon, he didn’t need a lot of run support.
His Northwestern State baseball teammates were more than happy to provide him with it anyway.
The Demons backed McDonald’s first career complete game by reaching double figures in runs, hits and walks in an 11-1, eight-inning Southland Conference victory against Incarnate Word at Brown-Stroud Field.
“I’m not a guy who strikes out a lot of guys, so I just pitched down in the zone and let my defense go to work,” said McDonald, who earned his first career victory. “They ran some balls down. They turned a big double play in the fifth. Everything went in my favor.”
The victory gave Northwestern State (18-28, 8-16) its first conference series victory of the season and its first weekend series win since taking two of three from Cincinnati on opening weekend.
McDonald (1-2) was the picture of efficiency, needing just 77 pitches to toss the eight-inning complete game and give NSU its second complete game of the weekend following Nathan Jones’ nine innings on Friday night.
McDonald scattered four hits and struck out three. He did not walk a batter.
“Cullen McDonald gave us a tremendous start,” first-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “He came off a tough one last week where he lasted 1 2-3 innings. It’s important for guys to understand you’re going to have failures, you’re going to have some setbacks. You have to come back and be ready to go. We didn’t announce a Sunday starter (earlier in the week), but he didn’t pout. He still did his work throughout the week. I’m very proud of him.”
While McDonald filled up the strike zone, throwing 57 of his 77 pitches for strikes, five Cardinals pitchers struggled to do the same.
The Demons worked starter Tyler Lesley (0-5) and four UIW relievers for 11 walks, tying a season high. In a four-run fourth inning, the Demons drew five straight walks – including three with the bases loaded – off Cardinals relievers Austin Preiss and Ramon Salazar to build an 8-1 lead.
“Some walks are earned, and some walks are given to you,” Barbier said. “I think we earned a few of those walks with the bases loaded. We fouled off some good two-strike pitches and earned those walks.”
While the Cardinals (19-29, 7-17) walked their fair share of runs in, the Demons stayed engaged at the plate and picked up 13 hits, including four by David Fry.
Fry, the Demons’ leading hitter, had been 1-for-9 in the first two games of the series with just a pop-fly infield double in Saturday’s game. He responded with a 4-for-4, two-RBI game in the finale, turning in his first career four-hit game.
With his third single Sunday, Fry tallied his 268th career base, moving him past Barbier for 10th place on NSU’s career total bases list.
“It’s nice to know,” said Fry, who also is tied for fifth on NSU’s career doubles list with 45. “I’ve got to let Barbier know what’s up. I had a better approach, thinking middle not trying to do too much. Barbier and (assistant coach Taylor) Dugas were talking to me, and I was able to put some good swings together.”
Fry’s four hits led a trio of Demons with multiple-hit performances as Cade Jones (2-for-5, RBI) and Hunter Uzzle (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) also had more than one hit.
Austin Townsend drove in three runs while Uzzle, Fry and Emile Lege knocked home two apiece as the Demons scored 10 of their runs from the second through the fifth innings. Fry capped the game with a two-out RBI single inside the third-base bag that invoked the mercy rule.
“Dave had a big day, and that’s good to see,” Barbier said. “He had four knocks after a tough first two days. He’s our guy, and we need him to be the guy. He deserves everything he gets. He’s a testament to someone who came her ready to play, stuck with it and is getting better. He’s improved each and every year he’s been here.”
The Demons return to action Tuesday when they travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, to face the Little Rock Trojans. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
Northwestern State 11, Incarnate Word 1 (8 innings)
UIW 000 100 00 – 1 4 1
NSU 013 420 01 – 11 13 0
W – Cullen McDonald (1-2). L – Tyler Lesley (0-5). 2B – NSU, Spencer Goodwin; Matthew Alford. Highlights: UIW, David Anaya 2-3. NSU, David Fry 4-4, 2 RBIs; Cade Jones 2-5, RBI; Hunter Uzzle 2-4, 2 RBIs.
Records: Incarnate Word 19-29, 7-17; Northwestern State 18-28, 8-16.