HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – National Park College baseball coach Rich Thompson calls freshman Demias Jimerson the heart of his lineup.
Jimerson suffered a hand injury last week against Carl Albert College, and did not play in the first three games of the weekend series with Murray State College. The Nighthawks lost two games to Murray State on Saturday, and was shut out 6-0 in Sunday’s first game of another doubleheader.
Jimerson didn’t start the fourth game of the series, but was substituted into the lineup in the fourth inning with NPC trailing, 6-0. Jimerson singled home two runs, and followed with his 11th and 12th home runs of the season in the sixth and seventh innings to help rally National Park College to an 11-9 victory.
Demias Jimerson drives in six runs
“I didn’t say anything between games today,” said Thompson. “We have a bunch of leaders on the team, and if I need them they can take care of themselves.
“We hit some balls hard all weekend, but we just didn’t have a lot of luck. That’s baseball I suppose. We’d been without Demias since the second game of the Carl Albert series. He decided he was OK to go, and hits two home runs. That was bigtime. We had to win this game. Let’s hope we can do this in the first game of the next series instead of the last.”
Prior to Jimerson first appearance in the series at the Hot Springs High School complex, the Aggies had hit 10 home runs and outscored the Nighthawks, 18-3.
NPC had entered the series ranked among the top 10 nationwide in home runs with 58. Jimerson’s first dinger in the sixth was the Nighthawks’ first of the series. Nathan Kirkpatrick made it back-to-back home runs one pitch after Jimerson touched home. Catcher Jesus Minjarez hit a 340-foot roundtripper in the eighth.
Nighthawks’ bullpen gets job done
Murray State (17-15, 4-4) was held in check the final three innings by three NPC pitchers until freshman Brady Evans homered over the left field fence to make it 11-9. Jaden Shafer singled two pitches later off NPC’s sixth pitcher, Tristen Jamison. The hard-throwing righthander had played third all day, but retired the next three batters to end the game.
“You’re always nervous playing in this park with a lead; it plays so small sometimes,” said Thompson. “I’m sure Murray State was nervous when they had a six-run lead. You have to make good pitches, and stay ahead in the count.”
The Aggies built their early lead with a five-run uprising in the second. Chase Keeton hit a three-run homer. A hit batsman, infield error, and single by Tyler Bischke made it 6-0.
Back-to-back dingers ignite NPC
National Park College (14-15, 3-5) was held hitless the first three innings. Panama H-Mendez led off the fourth with a single to center. Minjarez was the first of six hit batsmen, and one out later David Newsom doubled off the left field fence. Jimerson drove in two with his first hit of the series.
Darrin Bedell was hit by a pitch to start the Nighthawks’ fifth. He moved up on a wild pitch, eventually scoring on a single by Minjarez.
Two home runs in the sixth made it a one-run game. The Nighthawks and their fans were celebrating when Jimerson smashed a three-run homer over the center field fence to give NPC its first lead of the series.
The Aggies scored the only run they needed in the first game when leadoff batter Tyler Bischke hit a home run. Left-hander Cameron Poole blanked NPC on three hits, walking none and striking out five.
The Nighthawks journey to Enid, Okla., next weekend to play Northern Oklahoma College-Enid.