Demons can’t solve Tarleton’s Pinedo, fall in home opener

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State baseball team still needs a big hit to wake up its offense.

The Demons dropped their home opener Friday night to Tarleton, 3-0, collecting just two hits, including one on the first pitch of the game at Brown-Stroud Field.

“We’ve got to get it going offensively, defensively,” fifth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Like I told them, they’ve got to loosen up and play. We’ve got a lot of stiff bodies out there. We’ve struggled early, and we’ve got to loosen up and play.

“This game is about struggle. That’s what’s going to happen. You can’t play it fearful. I think we’ll come out (Saturday) and be OK.”

NSU (1-4) dropped its third straight game despite holding Tarleton (2-4) to five hits. The Texans, however, took advantage of each Demon miscue to take the series opener.

After Demon right-hander Johnathan Harmon (0-2) and Tarleton left-hander Alex Pinedo (1-1) each tossed two scoreless innings to start, the Texans broke through in the third.

Harmon hit Spencer Bloom with a pitch with one out, and after the Demons were unable to turn a double play, Tyler Fowler floated an RBI single to left field to score Bloom from second. Fowler went 2-for-4 as the only hitter in the game to post a multi-hit night.

That run turned out to be all the support Pinedo needed.

After allowing a double to Daunte Stuart on the first pitch of the game, Pinedo did not allow another hit until Peyton Davis led off the sixth inning with a single.

When the Demons did threaten Pinedo – after Stuart’s double and after Jeffrey Elkins reached on catcher’s interference – the Tarleton left-hander took on those matters head on, picking off a pair of NSU baserunners.

Pinedo needed just 94 pitches to complete his two-hit shutout and did not issue a walk until Cameron Parikh worked a five-pitch free pass to lead off the ninth.

A two-run fourth inning gave Pinedo plenty of cushion.

While Pinedo was strong from the outset, the Demons got an equally dominant performance out of the bullpen from freshman right-hander Alex Makarewich, who tossed 4 2-3 innings of one-hit shutout relief, striking out four.

“Alex was very good,” Barbier said. “He gave us five zeroes and a chance to get back in the game. We just couldn’t claw our way back in. I think last time was a little misunderstood. He started walking guys when he got tired. It’s a learning process – how do I act when I get tired? Today he showed some maturity, getting past the two-inning mark that had been tough on him.”

The series concludes Saturday with a 12 p.m. doubleheader. Left-hander Cal Carver (0-0, 0.00) and right-hander Levi David (0-1, 18.00) are scheduled to start for Northwestern State while right-handers Zach Gagnon (0-1, 16.87) and Bryce Hackett (1-0, 2.08) are slated to throw for Tarleton.

Tarleton 3, Northwestern State 0 

TSU        001 200 000 – 3 5 1 

NSU       000 000 000 – 0 2 1 

W – Alex Pinedo (1-1). L – Johnathan Harmon (0-2). 2B – TSU, Blake Burns. NSU, Daunte Stuart. Highlights: TSU, Tyler Fowler 2-4, RBI.

Records: Tarleton 2-4, Northwestern State 1-4.