Stuart’s clutch double lifts Demons to split of doubleheader with McNeese

Daunte Stuart drove in the game-winning runs with a bases-clearing double Friday night.
Daunte Stuart drove in the game-winning runs with a bases-clearing double Friday night.(Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services)
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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The following was released by NSU Athletics:

NATCHITOCHES, La. - Because Cal Carver limited the damage and because the bottom of the Northwestern State baseball lineup kept the line moving, Daunte Stuart had a chance to play the hero Friday night.

Stuart made sure his star turn did not go unused as he delivered a go-ahead, bases-clearing double with two outs in the eighth inning to lift the Demons to a 4-3 win against McNeese in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Brown-Stroud Field.

“Two outs, nobody on base, and we have four good at-bats in a row,” fifth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “The game can change like that. The game is there because Cal was able to stick with it. They have good hitters. Glad we were able to stick one out.”

The last at-bat victory for the Demons (23-21, 17-13) snapped a four-game skid for Northwestern State, which fell 7-1 in the opener to the Cowboys (22-24, 15-14).

The Demons were four outs away from a five-game losing streak before Jake Haze ignited a two-out rally with a walk off McNeese starter Bryson Hudgens (0-2).

Austin Kirkpatrick followed with his second double of the game, which appeared to end Hudgens’ day. After a mound visit, Hudgens remained in the game before walking Larson Fontenot to load the bases.

McNeese turned to right-hander Cameron Foster, who fell behind Stuart 3-0 before battling back to work the count full.

Stuart sliced the full-count offering down the right-field line, clearing the bases and putting the Demons in position to collect their 10th one-run win of the season.

While Stuart nabbed the big hit and the three RBIs, Haze played a key role in all three innings in which the Demons scored in the doubleheader.

In addition to his eighth-inning walk, Haze singled and scored the first run of the game in the third inning. In the opener, his third-inning leadoff single off Will Dion (6-4) set up the Demons’ lone run in that game.

“That’s what Jake’s been – he’s been a sparkplug for us,” Barbier said. “That’s why he’s in there – he gives good at-bats. He takes his walks. He can switch hit, which helps us in our lineup construction.”

Because of that lineup construction, Stuart was up at the right spot and the Demons’ leading power threat and RBI producer delivered, going to the opposite field to deliver the biggest hit of the day.

“I’m trying to spread it out, because the more you spread it out, the more hits you get,” Stuart said. “The guy on the bump had really good stuff, and I knew after those first two swings, I had cut down on my swing. It worked out.”

Stuart’s hit – and a clean ninth inning with a pair of strikeouts from Drayton Brown – made a winner of Carver (6-4), who was perfect in six of his eight innings.

After retiring the first nine batters he faced in the game, Carver allowed an infield single to Payton Harden to start the fourth inning and eventually loaded the bases with nobody out before limiting the Cowboys to a pair of runs.

Soft contact led to another McNeese run in the fifth and a 3-1 Cowboy lead before Carver retired the final 11 batters he faced. Between Carver and Brown, McNeese did not have a runner reach base after Nate Fisbeck’s one-out infield single in the fifth.

“Early on, I was able to get the fastball to both sides of the plate,” said Carver, who has gone a career-high eight innings in each of his last two starts. “I got a couple of bad swings and a couple of nice plays made behind me. I kind of lost it for a couple of innings, but I had to minimize as best I could.”

In the opener, Dion fanned 12 Northwestern State hitters while the Cowboys struck quickly against Demon starter Johnathan Harmon (4-3).

McNeese scored two runs in each of the first two innings and added a third before Andrew Cossio stifled the Cowboys. The 5-0 lead was plenty for Dion, who allowed one run in the third inning before stranding the bases loaded.

The series resumes with a 2 p.m. single game Saturday. Right-hander Levi David (2-5, 3.91) is set to start for Northwestern State against McNeese left-hander Jonathan Ellison (3-3, 3.47).

McNeese 7-3, Northwestern State 1-4

Game 1

McN 221 010 1 – 7 11 0

NSU 001 000 0 – 1 5 0

W – Will Dion (6-4). L – Johnathan Harmon (4-3). 2B – McN, Kade Morris. 3B – McN, Jake Dickerson. HR – McN, Brett Whelton (1), Tre Obregon (1). Highlights: McN, Clayton Rasbeary 3-4, RBI; Dickerson 2-3, 3B, RBI; Julian Gonzales 2-3, RBI.

Game 2

McN 000 210 000 – 3 4 0

NSU 001 000 03x – 4 4 0

W – Cal Carver (6-4). L – Bryson Hudgens (0-2). S – Drayton Brown (4). 2B – NSU, Daunte Stuart 2, Austin Kirkpatrick. Highlights: NSU, Stuart 2B, 3 RBIs; Kirkpatrick 2-3, 2 2Bs.

Records: McNeese 22-24, 15-14; Northwestern State 23-21, 17-13.

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