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College baseball: Homers lift LSU over Northwestern State

by Russell Hedges

By Jason Pugh, Northwestern State Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations

BATON ROUGE – The Northwestern State baseball team – young and old – had its moments Tuesday night at Alex Box Stadium.

The No. 2-ranked LSU Tigers had a few more.

The Tigers rode the momentum of three straight second-inning home runs to a 14-4 win against the visiting Demons, handing Northwestern State just its second mid-week loss of the year.

“That’s a really good team, and it’s what you get when you play a really good team,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We made some mistakes. When you throw six or seven guys, you’re going to have some guys who don’t have their best stuff. You want to see them command the ball better, because the guys who commanded the ball did well. We competed hard tonight.”

NSU (25-21) struck first for the third straight trip to Alex Box Stadium as Jeffrey Elkins started the game with a single and later scored on a wild pitch from LSU starter Thatcher Hurd (3-1). Hurd allowed three of the first four NSU hitters to reach but struck out the final two hitters of the inning to keep it a 1-0 lead.

After Chase Prestwich’s perfect first inning, Hurd responded with a three-up, three-down second inning before the LSU bats came to life.

Tommy White’s lead-off home run in the second was the first of three straight solo shots off right-hander Ethan Francis (1-1). The Tigers’ fourth home run of the game – Jordan Thompson’s three-run shot – capped a seven-run third inning in which the Tigers (38-10) sent 10 batters to the plate.

Northwestern State turned to the long ball to answer LSU’s second-inning barrage as freshman Michael Dattalo drove a 3-1 pitch from Blake Money out to left-center field for Dattalo’s eighth home run of the season.

It was part of another two-hit game for Dattalo, who has recorded a team-leading 23 multi-hit games this season. Dattalo’s sixth-inning double and Elkins’ RBI double in the seventh were the only other hits for the Demons.

Elkins went 2-for-4, giving him his third straight multi-hit game against the Tigers. A senior from Lafayette, Elkins is 7-for-15 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs in four career games against LSU.

“Jeff and Mikey had good days,” Barbier said. “Daunte (Stuart) swung the bat really well, but didn’t have a lot to show for it.”

After LSU’s seven-run third, freshman right-hander Tyler Bryan restored order with a perfect fourth inning that included strikeouts of projected first-round MLB Draft pick Dylan Crews and White to punctuate his fourth straight scoreless outing.

“He’s growing up and becoming a real guy for us,” Barbier said. “It’s fun to watch.”

The Demons return to action Friday when they host McNeese in the series opener of the final home series of the season. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

— Featured photo by Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

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