Demons pitch shutout for second straight game

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NATCHITOCHES -- A shutout can be accomplished in many ways.

The Northwestern State baseball team took a little longer route to its second straight shutout Wednesday afternoon.

Jerry Maddox turned in five strong innings and right-handers Peyton Graham and Evan Daigle each fired a pair of shutout innings as the Demons blanked Mississippi Valley State, 9-0, at Brown-Stroud Field.

It was the Demons' second shutout in as many days and their fifth straight shutout of the Delta Devils, dating to 2017.

"It's hard when you have so many pitchers hitting the mound for all of them to pitch well," third-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. "Usually, good pitching performances come from good, long starts. When you're short-starting guys, you're getting more guys in there, and it's refreshing to see all of those guys come out and compete freely, compete in the strike zone across the board. That's going to pay off for us down the road."

In addition to continuing to pitch well, the Demons (16-11) maintained their ability to strike with two outs offensively.

After Mississippi Valley starter Gerald Pintarich (1-5) worked a scoreless first inning, Tyler Smith drew a leadoff walk and went to third on the first of two Lenni Kunert doubles.

Pinatrich retired the next two Demons on strikeouts and walked Jakob Nunez before Sam Taylor gave the Demons a lead with a two-run double to left center,

Caleb Ricca followed with a two-run single, giving the Demons their third inning in the last three games with at least four two-out runs.

"They tell us never to give up with two outs, because anything can still happen," said Kunert, who credited adjustments made with hitting coach Taylor Dugas for his recent run of success. "We just go out there with the same mind-set to score with two outs."

The four-run second inning was plenty of support for senior right-hander Jerry Maddox, who spun five innings of one-hit ball, tying a season high with eight strikeouts.

Maddox (2-2) threw 51 of his 80 pitches for strikes, issuing only one walk and a third-inning single. He did not allow a Delta Devil to reach second base.

"My fastball was really hitting the bottom of the zone," Maddox said. "My slider was hitting when I needed it, and I was able to flip a couple of curveballs in there. I was really working on (commanding the fastball). In my last outing, I was leaving the fastball high, so I really worked on commanding it in the zone."

With Maddox, Graham and Daigle limiting Mississippi Valley State (6-14) to just two singles, the Demons' offense relied on the big inning to collect NSU's third straight win.

Another two-out barrage, this one in the fifth inning, doubled the Demons' lead to 8-0.

Hilton Brown delivered a two-run double and Peyton Davis connected on his first home run of the year, a two-run shot, one batter later. Brown and Davis were the first two outs in the second inning as both could not deliver hits with runners on second and third and no outs.

Instead, they came up with clutch hits as the Demons completed another two-out rally.

"We said all along, if we get some guys like Peyton and J.P. (Lagreco) and Tyler going, swinging the bats like we know they can, we'll be OK," Barbier said. "It was good to see the big blow from Peyton. We probably should have scored earlier when we had second and third and nobody out.

"It was good for Sam to come through with the double. Over the course of a season, guys work on different things work with coach Dugas and the other coaches, and it's good to see that work get rewarded."

Kunert (2-for-3), Caleb Ricca (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) and Jeffrey Elkins (2-for-4) all had multi-hit games as the Demons compiled 11 hits, marking their third straight game with double-figure hits.

Northwestern State continues its five-game homestand Friday when it opens a three-game Southland Conference series against Nicholls at 6:30 p.m.