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Demons set for showdown with Sam Houston
Apr 06, 2012 | 224 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HUNTSVILLE- Southland Conference’s top two baseball teams will collide here this weekend when Northwestern State, the league’s No. 2 team, takes on first place Sam Houston State.

The series will be played Thursday-Saturday instead due to the league’s rule for not playing on Easter Sunday. First pitch is slated for 6:30 both Thursday and Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The Demons (12-14, 9-3 SLC) have won their first four conference series of the season for the first time since the 2005 championship season while Sam Houston State (20-9, 10-2) has a one-game lead over the Demons in the league standings.

“Sam Houston is very solid ball club that is off to a good start,” said head coach J.P. Davis. “We’re looking forward to going over and competing.

“I think we’re starting to come together as a team and develop an identity and understand our personality and know what we need to do to win ball games. Consistency is the key, especially in the team’s effort and concentration.”

The Bearkats have won nine straight games, including a 2-1 win over No. 9 Rice on Tuesday, and swept their last two league series.

NSU is expected to stick with the pitching rotation of LHP Colin Bear (2-3, 4.93 ERA) on Thursday, RHP Jacob Roark (2-2, 3.82) on Friday and LHP Andrew Adams (1-2, 6.20) on Saturday.

If the Demons can continue to get solid outings from the starters, Davis will likely turn it over to the pen work of Joe Scanio (4-2, 2.83) and Mason Melotakis (1-1, 3.28, 7 saves) who have combined for three victories and ffive saves in the last five conference wins.

“The key is getting a good outing from the start,” said Davis. “And if we can get to the sixth or seventh inning with the lead, that’s what we want so we can turn it over to Scanio and Melo. Plus we’ve got another great arm in (Carson) Goldsmith.”

Scanio is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in six conference appearances while Melotakis is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA and five saves in the same number of league games played.

Offensively, the Demons will roll into the weekend hitting .295 as a team in conference games only with five players hitting above the .300 mark.

Left fielder Will Watson tops the unit with a .395 average in SLC games followed by catcher Nick Purdy at .393, center fielder Drew Helenihi at .381, designated hitter Colin Bear hitting .346 and second baseman Ray Frias at .302.

For the season, Watson leads the way with a .330 average to go along with 13 stolen bases as Helenihi is at .319 and Purdy at .313.

The Bearkats, who are hitting .315 as a team and ranked in the top 15 in the nation in that category, is led by Anthony Azar’s .419 average.

Sam Houston is expected to go with the pitching rotation of Cody Dickson (3-2, 2.13), Caleb Smith (4-2, 2.64) and Justin Jackson (5-2, 3.11)

The Bearkats took two out of three from the Demons last season and hold a 7-6 lead in the series with Davis at the helm for NSU.

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