February 21, 2012

Matadors Drop Home Opener to #22 UCLA 19-7

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors (2-2) lost to the #22 UCLA Bruins (2-2) 19-7 in a non-conference game on Tuesday afternoon at Matador Field. Strong winds aided both offenses on the afternoon, resulting in the most runs produced for each team in a game this season.

The loss drops the Matadors to 36-18 in home openers and evens the all-time series with the Bruins at 36-36-1.

Neither team scored a run in the first two innings as freshman pitchers Brandon Warner for CSUN and Grant Watson for UCLA battled in each player's first career start. Northridge left fielder Miles Williams threw out a runner trying to score at the plate to end the top of the second inning.

The Bruins struck first on the scoreboard in what would be one of six straight half-innings with runs scored in the top of the third.

Behind a two-run home run by designated hitter Tyler Heineman and a three-run triple for Trevor Brown, UCLA owned a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning. Northridge was able to cut into the lead, however, with two runs in the home half of the third.

With the bases loaded and nobody out, junior Kyle Attl singled home freshman Alexis Mercado for CSUN's first run. The Matadors added another as junior outfielder Cal Vogelsang scored on a double play in the infield.

The Bruins extended the lead to 8-2 behind a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth and Mercado caught a runner trying to steal to end the inning. Mercado has successfully thrown out three of four runners attempting to steal this season.

Not to be put away early, the Matadors came out and loaded the bases again with no outs in the bottom of the fourth. Mercado took advantage of the situation and singled to left field to score Todd Eskelin and Williams for the first two RBIs of his career.

Following one run for UCLA in the fifth, Northridge closed the gap to 9-7 on Eskelin's first home run of the season, a three-run shot off the scoreboard in right center field with two outs. Those would be the last runs for the Matadors in the game as the Bruins scored once in the seventh and nine times in the eighth to blow the game open and seal the victory.

Relief pitcher Zack Ortiz (1-0) was credited with the win for UCLA after throwing 2.0 innings and allowing three runs on two hits. Reliever Harper White (0-1) took the loss for Northridge.

Eskelin finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs and Mercado was a perfect 1-for-1 with two walks, a run scored and two RBIs. Matadors making their debuts for the program included pitchers White, Jordan Johnson and Louis Cohen.

The Matadors return to action with a four-game series against the Northwestern Wildcats this weekend at Matador Field. Friday's game starts at 2 p.m. while a doubleheader is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday. The series finale is slated for a 1 p.m. start on Sunday afternoon.

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