Demons fall to Houston Baptist in walk-off fashion

Marshall Skinner tied a career high with three hits in Friday's loss to Houston Baptist.
Marshall Skinner tied a career high with three hits in Friday's loss to Houston Baptist.(Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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HOUSTON, Tx (NSU) – On a day where the Northwestern State baseball team found a good number of barrels, a bleeder through the infield stood as the biggest hit of the day.

Houston Baptist’s Todd Jackson rolled a pinch-hit single through the middle of the infield, scoring Sebastian Trinidad with the game-winning run as the Huskies edged the Demons, 7-6, on a dreary misty Friday afternoon at Husky Field.

Jackson’s game-winner, which came on an 0-2 pitch, came with Trinidad running and barely reached the outfield grass to give HBU (8-23, 5-12) the win in the opener of a four-game Southland Conference series.

“It was a good day to hit,” fifth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “A lot of balls found grass.”

For the second straight day where they played, the Demons (15-16, 9-8) failed to fully capitalize on an early bases-loaded opportunity.

Trailing 3-0 after one inning, Northwestern State loaded the bases with one out on three walks by HBU starter Austin Spinney, who lasted just 1 1-3 innings.

Jake Haze’s opposite-field RBI single put the Demons on the board, and after issuing two straight balls to Larson Fontenot, Spinney’s day was done.

Right-hander Tyler Zarella entered and retired Fontenot and Daunte Stuart to keep the Huskies up by two.

The Demons eventually got to Zarella, starting the third inning with three consecutive doubles by Lenni Kunert, Jeffrey Elkins and Marshall Skinner to tie the game.

All told, the Demons stranded nine runners, leaving five in scoring position.

“We had them on the ropes early,” Barbier said. “We got two poor at-bats with the bases loaded. Then the next inning, we go three doubles in a row. There aren’t that many opportunities that present themselves. You have to be ready for those at-bats. It’s the same thing on the mound. You’ve got to make big pitches in those big spots.”

The Huskies ambushed NSU starter Johnathan Harmon, stringing together four first-inning hits to take a 3-0 lead and set the tone for a 17-hit day. Houston Baptist did not go in order in any inning, putting multiple runners on base in all but two innings against Harmon and two relievers.

Harmon lasted 3 2-3 innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs, all of which were earned.

Left-hander Reed Michel escaped a two-out, two-on jam in the fourth and worked two more scoreless innings before back-to-back hits drove him from the game, holding a 6-5 lead in the seventh.

Drayton Brown (1-2) entered and struck out the first four HBU hitters he faced as part of a career-high six strikeouts. However, Brown threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the seventh and was the victim of Jackson’s soft-contact roller with Trinidad in motion to end the game.

The Demons put together 10 hits, marking their third double-figure hit performance in conference play. Skinner paced the attack, going 3-for-5 with a double and a pair of RBIs. Kunert (2-for-4) and Haze (2-3, RBI) added multi-hit games for the Demons, who fell to 4-5 in one-run Southland games.

Brennen Bales and Brandon Bena each had three hits to lead the Huskies, who got 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief from Morris Austin (3-0) to end the game.

The series continues Saturday with an 11 a.m. doubleheader. Left-hander Cal Carver (3-3, 3.43) and right-hander Levi David (2-3, 3.48) are scheduled to start for the Demons. Houston Baptist has not announced a starter for either game.

Houston Baptist 7, Northwestern State 6

NSU 012 200 100 – 6 10 0

HBU 301 000 201 – 7 17 2

W – Morris Austin (3-0). L – Drayton Brown (1-2). 2B – NSU, Lenni Kunert 2, Jeffrey Elkins, Marshall Skinner. HBU, Christian Dumont, Lane Botkin, Dawson Woods. Sebastian Trinidad. 3B – HBU, Brennen Bales. Highlights: NSU, Kunert 2-4, 2 2Bs; Skinner 3-5, 2B, 2 RBIs; Jake Haze 2-3, RBI. HBU, Jake Miller 2-5; Brandon Bena 3-5; Bales 3-5, 3B, RBI; Botkin 2-5, 2B, RBI; Woods 3-5, 2B, 2 RBIs; Trinidad 2-4, 2B, RBI.

Records: Northwestern State 15-16, 9-8; Houston Baptist 8-23, 5-12.

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