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Outfielder senior Quade Smith, #1 from Brandon, Miss., prepares to bat during the Nicholls vs Houston Baptist on March 18.

Outfielder senior Quade Smith, #1 from Brandon, Miss., prepares to bat during the Nicholls vs Houston Baptist on March 18.

Photo by: Lauren Hebert

Photo by: Lauren Hebert

Outfielder senior Quade Smith, #1 from Brandon, Miss., prepares to bat during the Nicholls vs Houston Baptist on March 18.

Baseball plays McNeese after winning against HBU

March 23, 2017

The Nicholls State University baseball team completed a three game sweep of Houston Baptist University in conference play last weekend, capped off by a walk-off wild pitch in the series’ final game.

“Every conference win is huge and they all add up,” senior outfielder Justin Holt said. “We are going to try to build off of that momentum and continue to do what we do best.”

On Friday night, St. Patrick’s Day, the Colonels hosted a charity game to support the Louis Children Crisis Center in Houma by wearing green jerseys to be auctioned off after the game. The team’s ace, Cole Stapler, tossed a complete game in the 2-1 victory, fanning seven and allowing just three hits.

“I was throwing my fastball over the plate for strikes,” Stapler said on what was working for him. “Late in the count I really like to go in on guys and fool them and beat them in.”

In the seventh inning, the Colonels broke a scoreless tie with a two-run double by designated hitter Juan Givan. Stapler was able to shut HBU down by getting 13 ground ball outs in the contest.

“He was really able to beat them up with the fastball and he had his slider working well too, so he was able to keep them off balance and keep them from taking big swings,” senior catcher Alex Tucker said. “I think the biggest aspect of his night was being able to throw his fastball for strikes and work both sides of the plate.”

Stapler only walked one batter in the game, and said hitting his spots consistently will keep guys off base.

“I know I’ve had walks in every start so far, so to limit those walks and those numbers is big for me and our defense,” Stapler said. “They don’t have to work with guys on base and it takes a lot of pressure off of us.”

The Colonels pitching staff was able to keep HBU’s offense at bay all weekend, with a 3-1 win on Saturday and a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Junior Cayden Hatcher threw seven strong innings with six strikeouts in a 2-1 win and senior left-hander Mike Hanchar tossed 8.1 innings with no walks and allowed two earned runs in a no-decision.

“When it comes down to it, that’s what’s going to win more games,” Tucker said on him working well with the pitching staff. “For me, I’d like to focus the majority of my energy on catching and working with the pitchers and making sure it’s a clean game.”

Holt, who is tied for the team lead in stolen bases with four in five attempts, said he keeps the same routine every day in practice and stays with the same approach.

“My speed is my biggest asset; so offensively, I just try to use my legs to the best of my ability,” Holt said. “Defensively, I just try to hawk down any ball I can that gets out there.”

After a non-conference game against Southern University on Wednesday, the Colonels will travel to Lake Charles to play McNeese State University, who currently boasts an 11-0 record at home.

“We know we can beat anybody in this conference,” Stapler said. “I think these guys know that we can compete and possibly win this league, and we want to make it as deep as we can into postseason play.”

The first pitch of the Colonels’ three game set at McNeese is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday.

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