NATCHITOCHES – The final three innings of Friday’s second game of a Southland Conference doubleheader against New Orleans illustrated much of the Northwestern State baseball team’s season.
Three times in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, the Demons had chances to tie the game but came up short each time, falling 6-3 to the Privateers, who swept the doubleheader with a 12-2 win in the opener at Brown-Stroud Field.
The doubleheader sweep made New Orleans (28-26-1, 16-14) the first Southland team to sweep Northwestern State (20-34, 10-20) at home this season.
“We just came up short,” first-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We didn’t make enough plays to win games, and we understand that. We know what we have to work toward in the fall and in summer recruiting. We know what it takes to make a Northwestern State baseball team, and we have to work toward that.”
After hitting two home runs Thursday night and three in the first game Friday, New Orleans got a pair of two-run home runs from Orynn Veillon in the nightcap.
The first extended the Privateers’ lead to 3-0 in the second inning while the second – in the ninth inning – greatly altered NSU’s comeback chances.
Trailing 3-1 in the seventh, the Demons got a one-out RBI double from Hunter Uzzle, who tallied his first three-hit game of the season, to cut the lead to one.
Uzzle reached third base on a wild pitch, but UNO reliever Reeves Martin stranded him there with back-to-back strikeouts.
After Tristan Clarke singled home a run in the top of the eighth, Tyler Smith singled to start the Demons’ half of the inning and scored when Cade Jones followed with an RBI double with nobody out. Again, Martin and left-hander Christopher DeMayo stranded a runner in scoring position to cling to a one-run lead.
Veillon’s second home run, which went out just to the right of the raised center-field wall, re-established UNO’s three-run advantage.
Veillon’s shot loomed large as Uzzle delivered a one-out, bad-hop single and senior Matt Valdez, in his final at-bat, shot a double to the left-center field gap. Valdez had his first three-hit game of the season in the opener and finished the doubleheader 4-for-8.
Again, the UNO bullpen wiggled out as DeMayo notched back-to-back strikeouts to make a winner of starter Riley Hodge (1-2) and keep UNO’s postseason hopes alive.
In the opener, Hezekiah Randolph homered twice and scored five times to spark a 12-2 Privateers win.
Veillon added a three-run home run as UNO broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning.
The Demons said good-bye to their seven-man senior class, and several members of the group had strong performances in their final college baseball games.
In addition to Valdez, Regan Kaufman went 4-for-7 in the doubleheader. Spencer Goodwin knocked in the Demons’ first run of the opener while Matthew Alford scored NSU’s final run of the first game.
Evan Tidwell (4-7) struck out three batters early in the opener before running into trouble. His four innings pitched gave him 242 2-3 for his career, moving him past Heath Hennigan for ninth on NSU’s all-time list.
Tim Winders worked an inning of relief, striking out one batter, and Kaufman made his collegiate pitching debut, striking out a pair of batters in the ninth inning of the opener.
In the nightcap, left-hander Devin Bear worked 1 1-3 scoreless innings, striking out two, including the final batter of his career.
“They never wavered,” Barbier said of the seniors. “They were always out there working, even when things didn’t go their way. I’m very proud of them and what’s next for them.”
New Orleans 12-6, Northwestern State 2-3
UNO 020 250 111 – 12 13 0
NSU 001 001 000 – 2 8 2
W – Bryan Warzek (8-3). L – Evan Tidwell (4-7). 2B – UNO, Hezekiah Randolph; Tristan Clarke. NSU, Matthew Alford. HR – UNO, Hezekiah Randolph 2 (11); Orynn Veillon (11). Highlights: UNO, Aaron Palmer 2-4, RBI; Randolph 3-3, 2B, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs; Jay Robinson 3-4, 2 RBIs; Veillon HR, 3 RBIs. NSU, Matt Valdez 3-4.
UNO 120 000 012 – 6 12 0
NSU 001 000 110 – 3 8 0
W – Riley Hodge (1-2). L – Cullen McDonald (2-3). 2B – UNO, Owen Magee 2. NSU, Cade Jones; Hunter Uzzle 2; Matt Valdez. HR – UNO, Orynn Veillon 2 (13). Highlights: UNO, John Cable 2-5; Magee 2-4, 2 2Bs, RBI; Tristan Clarke 2-3, RBI; Veillon 2-4, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs. NSU, Regan Kaufman 2-4; Uzzle 3-3, 2 2Bs, RBI.
Records: New Orleans 28-26-1, 16-14; Northwestern State 20-34, 10-20.