Tyler Pigott’s been a member of Northwestern State’s baseball team for less than two years, but all it took was one glance by the senior before batting practice where the Demons were hosting No. 11 LSU to realize something special was taking place.
Pigott, a former Doyle High standout, had never seen anything like it – a scene at Brown-Stroud Field resembling something more akin to a postseason atmosphere than an ordinary midweek game in March.
“It was unreal,” Pigott said of NSU’s biggest crowd (3,240) in 18 years. “We had more people there for batting practice probably more than any game. It was electric.”
Northwestern State put on quite a show for the home folks with the final act from Pigott playing to rave reviews.
The Demons, who were eliminated 9-5 by LSU from last year’s NCAA Regional in Corvallis, Ore., atoned for that defeat behind a tremendous pitching performance from starter Cullen McDonald and a three-run sixth inning in a 3-1 victory.
Pigott worked 1.1 innings in relief, striking out two and walking one to register the first collegiate save.
“Regionals didn’t work out like we wanted to,” Pigott said. “It felt good to come back and beat them at home.”
Northwestern State surrendered a run in the top of the first, but McDonald was sterling the remainder of the way – an effort that carried into the eighth inning where he left with two outs and runners at first and second.
The Tigers were set to send four straight left-handed batters to the plate which made the move to the left-handed Pigott the percentage move, although he walked Chris Reid to load the bases.
“I was a little nervous with the big crowd,” Pigott said. “With LSU, everyone’s hyped to pitch against them. I settled in after I walked the first guy. I felt good.”
Pigott, who started against LSU at Alex Box Stadium last season, found himself in a bases-loaded situation facing arguably LSU’s most dangerous hitter in sophomore All-American candidate Daniel Cabrera.
Pigott went 2-2 in the count when he got Cabrera to chop a ball over the mound and to a hard-charging Caleb Ricca at shortstop, who turned the slow roller into the final out of the inning on a close play at first base.
“Not the guy you want up to bat with the bases loaded in a tough spot,” Pigott said of his matchup with Cabrera, who had 12 career homers. “I was just trying to take it one pitch at a time and live on the outside part of the plate. I ended up throwing a fastball that got in on him and we got out of it.”
Pigott carried the momentum of that scintillating play to the ninth where a two-run lead proved to be safe.
Pigott got consecutive strikeouts of Cade Beloso and Drew Bianco before getting catcher Brock Mathis to line the first pitch to left field for the final out.
“Getting out of that situation really helped,” Pigott said of the eight-inning jam. “Going back out there I was just thinking I was going to take it one pitch at a time. I ended up striking out the first two and I was feeling the adrenaline.”
The appearance against LSU represented the sixth of the season for Pigott – all in the relief – where after a year in which he went 2-1 with a 5.16 ERA primarily out of the bullpen, it appears he’ll fulfill an identical role for NSU this season.
After rocky outings in two of his first three games against Houston and Little Rock, Pigott (2-1, 5.87) has only allowed one run in his last three appearances – a span of 5.1 innings – that included wins against Louisiana Tech and Abilene Christian.
“I’ll pick up whatever role’s necessary to pitch,” Pigott said. “I started off weak, not executing pitches properly. I have full confidence in myself. I think my team knows that I’m going to get it done when I go in. Everyone on the pitching staff feels we have that one guy that’s going to go in and shut it down.”
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