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Demons pick up huge win over Bobcats, tied for seventh in SLC race
May 19, 2012 | 466 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Colin Bear, right, celebrates with teammates Matt Baca, middle, and Nick Hinojos after hitting a two-run homerun in the third inning.			          Photo by Gary Hardemon
Colin Bear, right, celebrates with teammates Matt Baca, middle, and Nick Hinojos after hitting a two-run homerun in the third inning. Photo by Gary Hardemon
NATCHITOCHES – Good starting pitching by Mason Melotakis combined with outstanding defensive plays and aggressive base-running helped pace Northwestern State to a 7-2 Southland Conference baseball win over Texas State Thursday night at Brown-Stroud Field.

Melotakis (4-4) notched the win after he threw 6.1 innings and allowed just two runs on three hits and struck out seven batters as the Demons improved to 19-30 overall and 14-17 in conference play.

And with Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi both losing on Thursday, the Demons now find themselves in a three-way tie for seventh place. The top eight teams qualify for the May 23-26 conference tournament.

But first things first, Melo did what he was asked to do and that was to handicap the Bobcat bats, which finished with just three hits in the game, and he did it in front of about a dozen Major League Baseball scouts.

The Demons also took advantage of four Texas State wild pitches and two passed balls with all four wild pitches coming in the third inning that helped lead to four Demon runs.

“I thought we did a good job of taking advantage of those wild pitches and passed balls,” said head coach J.P. Davis. “(Texas State starting pitcher Travis) Ballew has good stuff and a great slider and he was striking some guys out. But we did a good job seeing the pitches in the dirt and taking the extra base.”

The Demons led it 1-0 going into the third inning when first baseman Will Watson was hit-by-a-pitch with one out, stole second, then scored on a nicely executed hit-and-run single by designated hitter Matt Baca.

In the third, center fielder Drew Helenihi who had a hit and RBI, drew a one out walk and went to second on a passed ball. Watson struck out swinging but reached base when the ball was thrown into the dirt and got away from Bobcat catcher Cody Perkins.

With runners at the corners, Helenihi scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 as Watson advanced to second. Watson went to third on the very next pitch, another wild one and Baca walked but on that ball four pitch, the ball trickled away from the catcher in front of home plate and Watson was on his horse to score and make it 3-0.

Colin Bear, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate, followed with the big blow, a two-run home run to right field to put the Demons up 5-0.

“Watson made a great dirt ball read and scored from third base and that really got it going,” said Davis. “And then after throwing a lot of sliders in the dirt, they go fastball to Bear and he put it out and I think that was the difference in the game.”

Meanwhile, Melotakis was cruising through the first five innings and did not allow a hit until Texas State second baseman Tyler Sibley led off the fourth with a single to right-center field. After a wild pitch moved him to second and a walk to center fielder Morgan Mikan, Melo got Jeff McVaney to foul out behind home plate then got Casey Kalenkosky to hit into a 643 double play.

“I thought we played tremendously on defense,” said Davis. “Especially with that double play there by (Mitch) Huckabay. That was a really big play.

“Melo was really good tonight. He came out and stuck it in there pretty good and worked the fastball on both sides of the plate. Other than the one mistake to Kalenkosky, it was a good outing.”

The Demons added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth when Jordan Buckley scored on a fielding error by Bobcat third baseman Nick Smelser, and then on a RBI single by Watson.

Texas State (29-22, 17-14) got its only two runs of the game on a two-run homer by Kalenkosky, his ninth of the season, and after Cody Lovejoy drew a one-out walk in the seventh, Davis went to the bullpen and Joe Scanio, who closed out the game with 2.2 perfect innings with four strikeouts.

The Demons, who need to win at least one more game to have a shot for the postseason, will go for the series win at 6:30 on Friday as Jamie Bittle is expected to take the mound.

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