NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
With a 3-1 victory over the Utah Valley University Wolverines (9-16) on Sunday afternoon at Matador Field, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (10-12) swept an opponent in a four-game series for the first time since 2010 at Seattle University. Junior left-handed pitcher John Salas pitched 8.0 scoreless innings and struck out five batters to earn his first win of the season.
"I think the guys did a really good job of not getting happy or satisfied with the previous three games," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "I'm really proud of what we put together this weekend."
"I did what I try to do each time out and that's hit my spots," said Salas when asked about his approach in a starting role.
After Salas set down the Wolverines in order in the first, the Matadors jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom half. Junior Miles Williams smacked his team-leading seventh home run of the season, a solo shot to left field with two outs.
Utah Valley nearly tied the game in the top of the second inning following a leadoff double by Kai Hatch. After Hatch advanced to third on a ground out, a high chopped ball was fielded by Nicolas Osuna at third. Osuna fired home and Alexis Mercado applied the tag on Hatch for the second out.
Northridge added a run in the bottom of the fourth to extend its lead to 2-0. Kyle Ferramola drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Mercado laced a double that stayed fair down the left field line to score the run from second.
The Matadors scored once more in the third to give Salas more than enough support on the day. Michael Livingston led off the inning with a single up the middle on the first pitch and advanced to second on a ground out.
After moving up to third on a deep flyout by Williams, Livingston scored on an infield single by Joshua Goossen-Brown.
Salas continued his impressive display on the mound and allowed just one base runner over the next three innings. In fact, after Hatch's double to open the second, Salas did not allow a runner to reach second base for the remainder of his outing.
"I was itching to get back out there [in the ninth] but I trust the guys I have behind me. We have a good bullpen," added Salas. "I know they're going to help me get the W and come out on top, help the team win."
Utah Valley made things interesting in the ninth inning, using three straight one-out singles to load the bases and put the tying run aboard. Mark Krueger hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Jordy Hart with two outs, but relief pitcher Harley Holt retired Beau Kallas to end the game.
Salas (1-3) conceded five hits on the day and did not issue a walk in his eight innings of work. Michael Coates and Holt combined to pitch the ninth for the Matadors, with Holt earning his first save of the season. Utah Valley starter Devin Nelson (1-2) allowed three runs on six hits in six innings to take the loss.
Williams and Mercado led the Matadors offensively with two hits and an RBI each while Ferramola drew a pair of walks and scored a run.
The Matadors will next play the University of San Diego on Tuesday, March 26, at 3 p.m. at Matador Field. CSUN will open its Big West Conference season next weekend beginning with a Thursday night game on March 28 at Long Beach State.