March 27, 2010
NATCHITOCHES, La. - Junior shortstop Jesse Payne hit his first career grand slam to give UT Arlington the lead Saturday afternoon, but Northwestern State took it right back and eventually evened the Southland Conference series at a game apiece with an 11-5 victory at Brown-Stroud Field.
The Mavericks (11-12, 4-4 SLC) had their four-game winning streak snapped by Northwestern State (16-5, 4-3 SLC) who had every starting player record at least one base hit and finished with 16 on the day.
UT Arlington starter Rett Varner (2-3) took the loss allowing 11 base hits in 4.0 innings while the Demons scored seven runs with a walk against the junior right-hander. Northwestern State reliever Heath Hennigan (1-1) grabbed his first win of the season pitching 2.0 innings with three strikeouts out of the Demons' bullpen.
With Northwestern State leading 3-0, the Mavericks took the lead on Payne's grand slam in the fourth, his second homer of the season. Michael Choice led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second base on Preston Beck's one-out single through the right side. Catcher Chad Comer flew out to center field for the second out of the inning before junior third baseman Brian Nephew was hit by the pitch to load the bases for Payne.
Payne drove the first pitch he saw opposite field over the left-field wall to put the Mavericks in the lead 4-3.
That would be the last lead for the Mavericks. Northwestern State chased Varner in the bottom of the inning with four runs on five consecutive base hits. The Demons also plated a run in the fifth on a solo homer by Justin Martinez and scored three in the eighth inning to give them their eighth double-figure run total of the season.
The most impressive performance of the day came from Demons' third baseman Chase Lyles who not only went 2-for-5 with a run scored and a pair of RBI, he also broke the Northwestern State school record with four stolen bases. Lyles stole second and third base in both the fourth (singled) and sixth (reached on fielder's choice) innings.
Comer improved his career-high hit streak to 12 games with an infield hit in the fifth inning. Choice reached base with a full-count walk in the fourth inning to give him 35 straight games reaching base safely dating back to last season.
Payne went 1-for-4, right fielder Preston Beck added his fifth multi-hit game of the season going 2-for-4 and freshman second baseman Cody Dyvig led the Mavericks with his first career three-hit game going 3-for-4.
The Mavericks and Demons will face off in the rubber game of the series on Sunday, March 28, with a 1 p.m. first pitch scheduled for Brown-Stroud Field in Natchitoches, La.