March 16, 2012

Matadors Split Doubleheader with Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. -

In a doubleheader played due to inclement forecasted weather, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (9-10) split a pair of games with the University of Portland Pilots (12-3) on Friday at Hilken Stadium on the campus of Concordia University. After losing the first game 8-1 in seven innings, the Matadors were able to score early and use pitching to secure a 3-1 win in the second game.

The first game of the day featured a pitching duel through the first four innings as Northridge's Vincent Roberts went toe-to-toe with Portland's Kyle Kraus. Roberts retired the side in order in the first two innings and did not allow a baserunner until a two-out walk in the bottom of the third.

The Pilots stranded two runners on base in the inning as Roberts got Cody Lenahan to fly out to center field.

Kraus had similar success on the mound early as he scattered three hits through the first four innings. Portland scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning following a leadoff single by Nick Armenta, the Pilots' first hit of the game. Armenta eventually scored on a wild pitch with two outs.

The Matadors threatened to tie the game in the top of the sixth as Miles Williams singled with two outs and stole second base. Marty Bowen singled to left but Williams was tagged out at third base as he slipped rounding third on the wet field turf.

Portland broke the first game open in the bottom of the sixth with seven runs. The Pilots got five hits in the inning, including a two-run triple, a two-run double and a two-run single.

The Matadors scored their lone run in the top of the seventh as Todd Eskelin doubled to left center to open the inning. Alexis Mercado got a pinch hit single with one out and Ryan Raslowsky hit an RBI single to right to score Eskelin.

Roberts (0-3), despite pitching well with three strikeouts in 5.0 innings, took the loss for the Matadors. Kraus (3-1) went the distance for Portland to get the win.

Cal Vogelsang (2-for-4) and Eskelin (2-for-3) each had multiple hits in the game for the Matadors.

Game Two Recap:

In the second game of the doubleheader, the teams combined for nine hits, 11 walks and four hits by pitch as Northridge was able to capitalize in key situations.

The Matadors scored what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the second as Steven Keller was hit by a pitch to open the inning. Mercado then reached on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt and the bases were loaded when Kyle Attl was also hit by a pitch.

With one out, Raslowsky laid down a safety squeeze bunt and reached first on a single as there was no defender covering first with the first baseman charging on the play. Mercado and Keller scored as Raslowsky picked up his second and third RBIs of the day.

Portland was able to cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third inning. Beau Fraser doubled with one out for the first hit of the game for the Pilots and the bases were loaded after two ensuing walks. A sacrifice fly for Lenahan scored Fraser to make the score 2-1.

A number of defensive plays in the outfield for the Matadors kept the Pilots off the bases the middle innings, highlighted by an over-the-shoulder catch in deep center field and a diving catch in shallow center by Vogelsang.

Northridge extended its lead to 3-1 in the top of the seventh inning after Raslowsky singled to lead off. With two outs, Raslowsky stole second and advanced to third on the errant throw down to second. An RBI single for Eskelin scored Raslowsky to put the Matadors ahead by two runs.

Matador pitching in the late innings helped keep the margin at two and sophomore Harley Holt pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his first save of the season.

Alex Muren (4-1) pitched 7.0 innings and struck out three for the win while Travis Radke (3-1) took the loss for Portland.

Raslowsky finished the second game 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored as Eskelin went 1-for-2 with an RBI, a walk and a sacrifice.

The series between the Matadors and Pilots will conclude on Sunday, Mar. 18 at 12 p.m. at Hilken Stadium. Links for live stats and radio coverage of the series finale will be available on GoMatadors.com.

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