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NSU edges Grambling with clutch hitting, dominant bullpen
Apr 12, 2012 | 492 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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GRAMBLING – Matt Baca's two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning and Drew Helenihi's go-ahead single in the eighth rallied Northwestern State to a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Grambling here Tuesday night in college baseball action.

The Demons (13-17) fell behind 4-0 in the first inning after the Tigers (15-15) got four of their nine hits of the game in the frame, including a lead-off double by catcher Darren Farmer and a two-run triple off the bat of third baseman Thomas Brown, all off Demon starter Jamie Bittle who was pulled with one down in the inning.  Brown scored on his hit after NSU shortstop Matt Burns made an errant throw to home plate.

The relief combination of A.J. Funk, Austin Robson, Joe Scanio, Mason Melotakis and Carson Goldsmith held the Tigers to five hits and one run the remaining 8 1/3 innings, including just two hits the final five innings and none in the last three.

“I thought our relievers came in and did a good job,” said head coach J.P. Davis.  “Scanio was terrific tonight and Melo came in and really settled down after the first couple batters he faced.”

Melotakis (2-2) got the win after he threw two hitless and scoreless innings with four strikeouts.  Carson Goldsmith notched his first save as a Demon when he threw a hitless and scoreless ninth inning with a walk and a strikeout.  But before those two, Scanio set the tone with 1 2/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball with a strikeout and threw just 13 pitches in his appearance.

The Demons got on the board in the second when Nick Hinojos hit the first of his two doubles in the game and scored when Will Watson doubled to left-center to cut the deficit to 4-1.  Watson made a long turn at second and was cut down at third and was ejected from the game after arguing the call.

NSU pulled to within 4-2 in the third after Ray Frias led things off with a single and later scored after a sacrifice bunt by Helenihi moved him to third and a RBI bunt single by Jordan Buckley scored him.

Grambling got a run back in the fifth to go up 5-2 but Baca's two-out, two-run homer in the top of the sixth pulled NSU to within 5-4 before two more runs in the top of the eighth – Shaun Hoover scoring off a wild pitch and Baca scoring when Helenihi's two-out single up the middle gave the Demons the lead at 6-5.

"When Baca got that 2-run homer, that really got us going," said Davis.  

"And then Helenihi got the big hit that put us up.  That guy has been doing it all year and that's what a senior does in that situation."

NSU outhit Grambling by an 11-9 margin as Helenihi, Buckley and Hinojos each had two hits.

Michael Martin took the loss for Grambling as the third of four Tiger pitchers to see action.  He gave up two runs on two hits in one inning of work. The Demons will be back in action on Friday when they host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to start a three-game Southland Conference series.

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