NATCHITOCHES - Three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, including a go-ahead RBI single by Nick Purdy, led Northwestern State to a 7-5 Southland Conference baseball victory over Lamar in the opening game of a three-game series.
The win kept the Demons (8-12, 5-2) in at least a tie for first place in the conference standings while Lamar fell to 8-13 overall and 1-6 in league play.
Joe Scanio (2-2) picked up the win in a relief role after he subbed in for starter Colin Bear with two outs in the sixth inning. Bear gave up a run in the first inning then settled to throw goose eggs the next three before surrendering three runs in the fifth as Lamar rallied from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game at 4-all.
"We did a nice job early on by jumping out to the lead," said head coach J.P. Davis. "They (Lamar) got the run in the first inning and we got out of it. We got up 4-1 and Bear started to settle in, but once again, he completely loses concentration. That puts us in a situation now where we have momentum but then we're giving it right back."
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, the Demons knotted it up at 1-1 after left fielder Will Watson smacked a one-out triple to center field then scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Ryan Westbrook.
NSU got three runs in the fourth inning to go up 4-1 behind a three-hit inning including a RBI double by Purdy that made it 4-1. Purdy finished the game with a career-best 3-for-4 night with two RBI.
But in the top of the fifth, Lamar got back-to-back one-out singles by Darian Johnson and Seth Dornak, and after a strikeout for the second out of the frame, Bear surrendered back-to-back walks followed by a two-run single as Lamar tied the game at 4-4.
Davis went to the bullpen with Scanio who came in and got David Harris to strikeout to end the inning.
"Scanio came in and threw up zeroes and we're right there to take the game."
The Demons did just that after Lamar went up 5-4 after scoring on a balk in the top of the eighth with three in the bottom half of the inning.
Drew Helenihi led things off with a double to right-center field and Jordan Buckley advanced him to third on a sacrifice bunt but reached on an error as Helenihi scored to tie the game. Purdy got his second RBI of the game with a single that scored Buckley to give the Demons the lead.
After another sac bunt, this time from Nick Hinojos, Watson was intentionally walked and Westbrook singled to left field to load the bases. Shaun Hoover got a RBI grounder to make it 7-5 and close out the scoring while Mason Melotakis shut the door with a perfect ninth inning to notch his fourth save of the season.
"We did a great job in the eighth," said Davis. "We did a great job of making things happen."
Lamar starter Eric Harrington (0-4) took the loss after he threw 7.1 innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
Offensively, the Demons outhit Lamar by a 10-8 margin. In addition to Purdy's three hits, Ray Frias and Watson each had two hits.
Lamar was led at the plate by Dornak's 3-for-4 game.
The Demons will go for their third straight conference series win on Saturday with Jacob Roark taking the mound in the 2 o'clock game.