LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The numbers will say the Northwestern State baseball team deserved better than it got Sunday afternoon.
Demons pitchers did not walk a batter, the offense produced double-figure hits for the third straight game and the NSU defense did not commit an error.
What the Demons could not overcome, though, was a fast start by the Little Rock offense, which scored three runs in the first three batters of the game. The Trojans then made those early runs stand up in a 5-2 victory in the series finale at Gary Hogan Field.
“They’ve got a great hitting team, so a lot of credit goes to those guys,” second-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “They’ve got some tremendous hitters at the top of that order. Robert gave up three runs in the first three hitters then settled in and got us into the sixth inning.”
The Trojans (6-6) started quickly against Demons right-hander Robert Burke (0-2).
After Marcus Ragan led off the game with a single, Riley Pittman and Matt Merino followed with back-to-back home runs to stake starter Cole Townsend to a 3-0 lead.
Burke settled in and eventually worked 5 1-3 innings, allowing five runs (all earned) on 13 hits.
Townsend (2-0) made the early lead look much larger than three runs for most of the afternoon.
The left-hander scattered seven hits and struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings, leaving with a 5-0 lead before David Fry singled home a run against reliever Aaron Funk to snap the shutout.
The Demons (7-4) had their chances, putting the leadoff man on in each of the first four innings against Townsend, including back-to-back singles by Kelsey Richard and Lenni Kunert to start the fourth.
Each time the Demons threatened, Townsend had an answer, keeping the Demons scoreless until the seventh. By that time, the Trojans had added single runs in the third and fifth innings to extend the lead.
“He had a really good slider he could throw for strikes and could throw down,” Barbier said. “We had a little trouble with it. Even then, we had a chance with the bases loaded in the seventh and couldn’t get the big hit. That happens sometimes. We competed well. We gave ourselves a chance. If we get that hit, Dave’s homer in the ninth means a little more.”
Fry’s home run off reliever Aaron Funk with two outs in the ninth completed the scoring and gave the Demons their first extra-base hit of the game. It was Fry’s 20th career home run, tying him with David Bailey for 10th in program history.
“When you don’t walk anybody, you get 10 hits and you don’t make any errors, you’re going to win a lot of those games,” Barbier said. “I’m proud of the way we played today. We competed well. Every guy who came out of the bullpen was ready to pitch, like they were all weekend long. I’m really proud of the way we competed. Sometimes the other team plays really well.”
Fry had three hits to lead Northwestern State, which got a third straight multi-hit effort from Kwan Adkins (2-for-4). Kale Emshoff had three doubles to lead Little Rock’s 13-hit attack.
The Demons return to action Tuesday, opening a two-game midweek series at No. 9 Texas A&M. First pitch between the Demons and Aggies is set for 6:30 p.m. at Blue Bell Park.
Little Rock 5, Northwestern State 2
NSU 000 000 101 – 2 10 0
LR 301 010 00x – 5 13 1
W – Cole Townsend (2-0). L – Robert Burke (0-2). 2B – LR, Kale Emshoff 3. HR – NSU, David Fry (1). LR, Riley Pittman (2); Matt Merino (1). Highlights: NSU, Fry 3-5, HR, 2 RBIs; Kwan Adkins 2-4. LR, Marcus Ragan 3-4; Pittman 2-4, HR 2 RBIs; Merino 2-4, HR, RBI; Emshoff 3-4, 3 2Bs, RBI.
Records: Northwestern State 7-4, Little Rock 6-6