NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Despite rallying back from a 4-0 deficit to force extra innings, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (4-2) could not complete a second straight comeback and fell 6-5 to the University of Southern California Trojans (3-3) in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon at Matador Field. Northridge scored four runs in the seventh to tie the game and used a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings.
"We did a good job battling back and getting back into the ballgame," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "We just needed to do a better job early with our at-bats."
The Trojans opened up the scoring almost immediately following a pair of singles in the top of the first. With two on and nobody out, Dante Flores laid down a sacrifice bunt and Jake Hernandez brought in a run with a sacrifice fly.
USC expanded its lead to 3-0 with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Flores led off with a single and Hernandez scored him with a double down the left field line. Then, with one out, Vahn Bozoian scored on a single by Kevin Swick.
Northridge got its first hit of the afternoon in the bottom half of the fourth inning. With two outs and no runners on base, Nathan Ring lifted a single to left center to break up Wyatt Strahan's no-hitter bid.
Another run scored for USC in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by AJ Ramirez, setting the stage for the Matadors to make a dramatic comeback for the second straight day.
In the bottom of the seventh, Will Colantono reached on a fielding error by shortstop James Roberts to start things off. Tommy Simis then singled through the left side of the infield and Kyle Attl walked to load the bases.
Chester Pak then came in as a pinch hitter and reached on a fielder's choice that scored Colantono. With one out Michael Livingston dropped down a sacrifice bunt that was thrown away by pitcher Sean Silva, allowing Simis to score to cut the margin to 4-2.
With two outs a chopped ball to third by Miles Williams resulted in yet another errant throw, this time resulting in the tying run to score.
The Trojans wasted no time regaining the lead, however. In the top of the eighth with one out, Roberts hit a solo home run over the left field fence to put USC ahead 5-4.
The Matadors rallied once more, sending the game to extra innings with a run in the ninth. Livingston opened the frame with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a groundout. Miles Williams then singled to center field, advancing Livingston to third.
With runners on the corners, Joshua Goossen-Brown put down a squeeze bunt that scored Livingston and tied the game at 5-5.
The momentum shifted yet again though as USC scored the eventual winning run on a Swick single to left field with one out. The Matadors were unable to score in the bottom of the 10th.
Ring, Simis and Attl all had two hits for Northridge as the team ended the day with eight. Harley Holt started the game on the mound for CSUN and pitched 5.1 innings with three strikeouts and four earned runs in a no decision. Relief pitcher John Salas (0-1) was given the loss after allowing one run and two hits in 1.2 innings of work.
Matt Munson (1-0) was credited with the win for the Trojans despite blowing the save in the ninth inning. Sean Adler (1) pitched the final 0.2 innings for the save.
"We're going to be ready to do whatever we have to do to win a ballgame tomorrow," added Curtis. "We came into the series expecting to win this series and we are going to go about it as such."
The series will once again shift settings, this time heading back to Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles for the finale on Sunday, Feb. 24. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.