Demons hang on to top Jaguars

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLANDNorthwestern State's Matt Burns (5) gets Southern's Caleb Hatcherout at second and throws to first to complete a double play at Lee-Hines Field on Wednesday.
Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLANDNorthwestern State's Matt Burns (5) gets Southern's Caleb Hatcherout at second and throws to first to complete a double play at Lee-Hines Field on Wednesday.

By SCOTT HOTARD

Advocate sportswriter

Northwestern State right-hander Cameron Brewer threw two innings Tuesday night to earn his fourth save of the year, so the plan was to keep the junior closer rested on the bench Wednesday no matter what kind of late-game dilemma arose.

But with one out in the eighth and Northwestern’s lead suddenly down to one run, Brewer had already started staring toward pitching coach Chris Curry’s end of the dugout.

“Cameron came to us in the eighth and told us he could go,” Northwestern coach Lane Burroughs said. “We weren’t going to use him today, but he told us he could go. That’s the kind of kid he is. He’s a competitor.”

Brewer retired all five batters he faced in 1.2 innings of work, picking up his fifth save of the year — and second in as many days — as Northwestern hung on for a 12-11 win at Lee-Hines Field.

With the two-game, midweek sweep of Southern, Northwestern strung together back-to-back wins for the first time since the second weekend of March.

The Demons (13-33) entered Tuesday having lost nine games in a row.

Southern, which finished its Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division schedule Sunday, will enter a two-game, home-and-home series against Jackson State this weekend looking to snap a three-game skid.

The Jaguars (19-20) on Wednesday were without coach Roger Cador, who was out of town on a recruiting trip.

“We showed fight. That’s the one positive thing I have to take from this game,” Southern assistant Fernando Puebla said. “We fought a lot. Our pitching just didn’t show up. The way we pitched, you’re fortunate just to be in the game.”

Northwestern did almost all of its damage with the bats in the fourth and eighth innings, scoring five runs in the fourth and six in the eighth and batting around in both frames.

Southern, which finished with 12 hits, had homers by Gavin Webster and Sean Washington and struck for five doubles.

But the five SU pitchers combined to give up 16 hits and issue 11 walks.

That’s how Northwestern overcame a 4-0 deficit entering the fourth, then an 8-6 hole entering the eighth.

Will Watson (3-for-6 with an RBI)and Todd Wallace (3-for-5, RBI) each had three hits for the Demons. Matt Burns (2-for-3) had a pair of doubles and two RBIs.

“I don’t remember the last time we came back from being down multiple runs. I don’t know that we’d done it all year. So I thought our guys showed some presence and some maturity coming back,” Burroughs said.

Joey Parrack got the win for Northwestern after holding Southern scoreless in the sixth and seventh. Southern senior Danny Garcia, the team’s usual Sunday starter, took the loss for the Jaguars after giving up four runs and getting only one out in the eighth.

“Our pitching has been outstanding all year,” Puebla said. “They just took the day off today.”

Southern rocked Northwestern starter Logan Shaftner for four runs in the first two innings, chasing him with Webster’s mammoth solo blast over the high wall in center field.

But the two big innings by the Demons had Southern looking up at a 12-8 deficit with five outs remaining.

Up to the plate stepped Washington, who delivered a three-run homer to left off Nick Helmstetter, who had replaced Parrack to start the eighth.

So the Demons went back to Brewer, one night removed from throwing two scoreless innings.

“When it gets down to the seventh or eighth, I just look down to coach Curry, and he tells me either ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” Brewer said. “He gave me the ‘yes’ today.”

Burroughs had little doubt Brewer would be available Friday when Northwestern starts a three-game series at Stephen F. Austin.

“I know we’ll have to rip the ball out of his hand to get him off the mound,” Burroughs said. “He’ll be ready.”