NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
In what started out as a pitcher's duel, late runs broke the game open as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (22-26, 9-11 Big West) fell to the UC Davis Aggies (24-28, 10-10 Big West) 8-2 on Saturday afternoon at Matador Field. The Aggies used a seven-run eighth inning to distance themselves from the Matadors, who plated a pair of runs in the ninth.
UC Davis opened the scoring in the top of the second inning after neither team had a base runnner in the first. With one out, Eric Johnson singled and David Popkins was hit by a pitch before the pair stole second and third. Scott Kalush followed with an RBI single to give the Aggies an early edge.
The game moved quickly through the middle innings with the Matadors' best chance to tie early coming in the third. With two outs, Ryan Raslowsky and Cal Vogelsang singled to give Northridge a pair of runners but they could not come around to score.
The Aggies tallied just three hits between the fourth and seventh innings as Northridge starter Jerry Keel began to settle in. Keel lasted until the second batter of the eighth inning after allowing a leadoff hit on his 99th pitch of the afternoon.
At that point the UC Davis offense came alive, scoring seven runs in the top of the eighth to go ahead 8-0. The Aggies got a pair of two-run doubles from Johnson and Kalush and a two-run single by Tino Lipson. Pinch hitter Spencer Brann was also hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run.
Northridge had some offense of its own in the bottom of the ninth, but it proved to be too late. Tommy Simis pinch hit and reached on an error before pinch hitter Chester Pak singled through the right side and Alexis Mercado hit an RBI double to right center with no outs.
Matthew Moreno then entered as a pinch hitter and hit a sacrifice fly to score Pak from third to put the final line at 8-2.
Tom Briner (4-6) pitched a complete game for UC Davis and collected seven strikeouts for the win. Jerry Keel (6-2) struck out three and was charged with two runs, both earned, in the loss.
The Matadors saw hits in the game by seven different players, with Raslowsky leading the way with two. Mercado's double stood as the lone extra-base hit for Northridge.
The Matadors and Aggies will complete their three-game series on Sunday, May 20 at 1 p.m. Before the first pitch, the Matadors will honor their senior class of players before their final home game of the season. Moreno, Steven Keller, Todd Eskelin, Vincent Roberts and Justen Gorski will all be recognized.