Slow start costs Demons in loss at Abilene Christian

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ABILENE, Texas – By the time the Northwestern State baseball team put pressure on the Abilene Christian pitching staff Saturday night, it was too late.

The Demons scored all four of their runs in the final two innings, but six shutout innings by ACU right-hander Drew Hanson put Northwestern State in a hole as the Wildcats evened the Southland Conference series with a 9-4 win at Crutcher Scott Field.

“We didn’t put pressure on them until the fifth,” first-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “When you don’t make a pitcher change what he’s trying to do and you don’t put any pressure on him, it’s pretty easy for him to do what he wants to do. You saw late in the game, when we put pressure on them and take better swings, they don’t find the strike zone as often. We have to put pressure on them earlier in the game.”

Hanson (3-4) scattered three hits and four walks through his six innings of work. Despite putting seven runners on base against Hanson, the Demons (19-30, 9-17) had true scoring threats in just two innings – the first and the fifth.

With the Wildcats (13-34, 3-23) holding a 4-0 lead in the fifth, Hanson was able strand the bases loaded and keep momentum in the home dugout.

Abilene Christian took an early lead for the second straight game as Bradley Lewis’ second-inning sacrifice fly gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead against Evan Tidwell (4-6).

ACU added to the lead on Russell Crippen’s two-run home run in the third and took advantage of a mishandled sacrifice bunt to tack on an unearned fourth-inning run that extended the lead to 4-0.

“I thought Tidwell pitched fine,” Barbier said. “It’s like all of his starts. We didn’t make a couple of plays on balls on the ground. He had good stuff today. Credit them. They did a good job of making the plays and getting hits when they needed them.”

The Demons broke through in the eighth inning as Cade Jones led off the inning with his third home run of the season. Kelsey Richard’s one-out grounder brought home the second run of the inning and gave the Demons catcher his sixth RBI of the series and cut the lead to 7-2.

Abilene Christian answered with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth before David Fry capped the scoring with a two-run home run, his 10th of the season.

Fry finished 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and two RBIs. The seven total bases moved Fry’s career total to 277, placing him eighth on NSU’s all-time list. The two RBIs give Fry 100 for his career, putting him three away from joining the Demons’ top-10 career list.

Anthony Dominguez led ACU’s 11-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with a two-run single that capped ACU’s three-run seventh inning.

The series concludes Sunday with a 1 p.m. matinee. Sophomore right-hander Cullen McDonald (1-2, 4.06) will take the mound for Northwestern State against left-hander Derek Scott (2-1, 4.03) for Abilene Christian.

Abilene Christian 9, Northwestern State 4
NSU 000 000 022 – 4 7 2
ACU 012 100 32x – 9 11 0
W – Drew Hanson (3-4). L – Evan Tidwell (4-6). 2B – NSU, David Fry, Matthew Alford. ACU, Aaron Draper. HR – NSU, David Fry (10); Cade Jones (3); ACU, Russell Crippen (9). Highlights: NSU, Fry 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBIs. ACU, Anthony Dominguez 3-4, 2 RBIs; Mark Pearson 2-2.
Records: Northwestern State 19-30, 9-17; Abilene Christian 13-34, 3-23.

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