March 4, 2012

Northridge Rally Falls Short in 12-9 Loss at SDSU

SAN DIEGO, Calif. –

The Cal State Northridge Matadors (6-6) mounted a late rally but came up short in a 12-9 loss to the San Diego State Aztecs (7-6) on Sunday evening at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Miles Williams hit a three-run home run for the Matadors with two outs in the ninth as Northridge nearly pulled off the comeback.

The Matadors scored in the first inning for the first time this season as Nathan Ring led off the game with a walk. Tommy Simis put down a sacrifice bunt and reached first on a fielder's choice as the Aztecs failed to put out Ring at second base.

After Adam Barry sacrificed the runners to second and third, Marty Bowen executed a squeeze play to score Ring from third base.

The Aztecs threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning after a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt. After a single put runners at the corners with one out, Northridge starting pitcher Jerry Keel was able to create a pickoff play and the Matadors tagged out the lead runner at third base.

The Matadors led until the bottom of the fourth inning when San Diego State took a 3-1 lead. Back-to-back walks with one out led to three runs for the Aztecs on three hits later in the inning.

Northridge answered back immediately by tying the game at three runs apiece in the top of the fifth inning. Following a walk by Brett Balkan, catcher Alexis Mercado doubled down the left field line. Kyle Attl scored Balkan with a sacrifice fly that also advanced Mercado and Ring hit a sac fly to score him on the next play.

San Diego State took the lead at 6-3 after scoring twice in the sixth and once in the seventh. A two-out single in the sixth by Matt Munoz scored Jomel Torres from second base before Munoz came around to score on a fielding error later in the inning.

The Matadors responded once more by tying the game, this time in the top of the eighth inning. Barry, Bowen and Williams walked in succession for Northridge to load the bases with no outs. Travis Beck pinch hit for CSUN and drew a walk as well to force in Barry from third.

Balkan followed with a sac fly to center field that scored Bowen and Mercado's sac fly to right field brought home Williams to even the score at 6-6.

A six-run eighth inning for SDSU proved to be the difference, however. Two batters were walked and another two were hit by a pitch to score a run with no outs. A two-run single put the Aztecs up by three and they eventually push the lead to 12-6 before the inning was over.

Ring and Simis singled to open the ninth inning before the Matadors were faced with their final out of the game. Williams delivered with a three-run homer to right center field to cut the deficit to 12-9 with two outs. Cal Vogelsang and Balkan followed with singles through the left side of the infield before the rally was ended with the last out.

Relief pitcher Adam Anawalt (1-1) was credited with the win and Ethan Miller picked up a save for SDSU while Harley Holt (0-1) was given the loss for CSUN.

Williams led all Matadors at the plate by going 1-for-3 with two runs scored, three RBIs and two walks. Barry went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored and Mercado ended the day 2-for-4 with a run and one RBI. For his work at the Invitational, Williams was named to the All-Tournament Team.

As a team, Northridge recorded three sacrifice bunts (Simis, Barry, Bowen) and four sacrifice flies (Ring, Balkan, Mercado, Attl) while seven different Matadors scored a run in the game.

The game was the last of four for Cal State Northridge at the Aztec Invitational on the campus of San Diego State University. The Matadors return to action on Friday, Mar. 9 against Indiana at 2 p.m.