NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State baseball team learned a tough lesson Friday night.
Sometimes, you get only one shot to make a mark in a game.
Incarnate Word right-hander John Shull limited the Demons to just two hits – both of which came in the fifth inning – and struck out 12 as the Cardinals grabbed a 2-0 win in the Southland Conference series opener at Brown-Stroud Field.
“Their guy was really good tonight,” first-year coach Bobby Barbier said. “Give them a lot of credit. They made plays when they had to, and I don’t think we competed very hard. That’s the first game I’ve seen that happen. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and compete.”
In eight of the nine innings of his complete-game performance, Shull retired the first two Demons hitters, keeping NSU (16-28, 6-16) from establishing any momentum.
Shull retired the first 11 batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Cade Jones in the fourth.
By that time, the Cardinals (19-27, 7-15) had pushed across a third-inning run against Nathan Jones (3-7), who matched Shull by tossing a complete game.
Eddy Gonzalez’ one-out RBI double off Jones started the scoring, but the Northwestern State sophomore right-hander worked out of further trouble and kept UIW scoreless until an unearned run in the eighth inning doubled the lead.
“He pitched well,” Barbier said of Jones, who threw a career-high 119 pitches to record NSU’s second complete game of the season. “He commanded a couple of different pitches tonight and competed well.”
Jones scattered six hits and three walks, striking out five. He did not record a 1-2-3 inning until the ninth.
The Demons appeared to solve Shull a bit in the fifth inning when Matthew Alford and Emile Lege started the inning with consecutive singles.
A Caleb Ricca sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position before Shull loaded the bases by hitting Kwanstan Adkins with a pitch.
Shull danced his way out of trouble with a called strike three and a popout to maintain the lead.
“We had the bases loaded with one out,” Barbier said. “You’ve got to move the ball, put it in play, make them make a play. If you get a ball to the outfield and tie the game up, it’s a totally different feeling. You do some other things at that point. We just didn’t get it done.”
The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m. The Demons will send right-hander Evan Tidwell (4-5, 5.48) to the mound against UIW right-hander Bernie Martinez (3-4, 4.27) on Military Appreciation Day at Brown-Stroud Field.
Incarnate Word 2, Northwestern State 0
UIW 001 000 010 – 2 6 0
NSU 000 000 000 – 0 2 1
W – John Shull (4-7). L – Nathan Jones (3-7). 2B – UIW, Eddy Gonzalez 2. Highlights: UIW, Gonzalez 3-4, RBI.
Records: Incarnate Word 19-27, 7-15; Northwestern State 16-28, 6-16.