NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Behind a career-high five hits for Nathan Ring, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (11-12) upended the University of San Diego Toreros (16-9) 8-4 on Tuesday afternoon at Matador Field. Right-handed pitcher Brandon Warner did not allow a base runner until the fifth inning as the Matadors won their fifth consecutive game for the first time since 2010.
"This win this week was really important to keep the momentum going," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "The guys are starting to see the fruits of what we've put into work in the fall. They're starting to see the fruits of the difficult schedule that we've played."
Warner was stellar on the mound for the Matadors and allowed just two hits in his 5.0 innings of work. He recorded one strikeout on the day and retired the first 14 batters he faced before Andrew Daniel's two-out single to left in the fifth.
Northridge scored first in the back-and-forth battle, plating a run against USD starter Ryan Keller in the bottom of the second. Ring led off the inning with his first single of the game and promptly stole second before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt. With one out, Alexis Mercado brought Ring home with a ground out to the left side of the infield.
The Matadors doubled their lead in the bottom of the fourth after Ring got aboard with a one-out single to center. He advanced to third on a single by Kyle Ferramola and scored on a deep sacrifice fly by Chester Pak that nearly went for a home run.
The game appeared to break open in the bottom of the sixth as CSUN loaded the bases with one out. However, two runs were negated on a bunt attempt by Mercado as he was ruled to have interfered with the play. San Diego retired the next hitter to get out of the jam unscathed.
The Toreros built on the sudden shift in momentum and tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh. Louie Lechich doubled home a run and Austin Bailey brought home another with a ground out to first.
Northridge responded, however, and scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead for good. Ring drove in two runs with a double down the left field line after CSUN loaded the bases against Trevor Bayless.
A four-run eighth inning gave the Matadors an 8-2 cushion and allowed them to withstand a late rally by San Diego. After a pair of errors by the Torero defense, Michael Livingston reached on a bunt single to third base.
Kyle Attl scored Mercado with a sac fly to center field, Ryan Raslowsky singled in Nicolas Osuna and Joshua Goossen-Brown drove in two with a double to left field. With one out, Ring legged out an infield single for his fifth hit of the day.
The Toreros scored twice in the ninth to bring the scoreline closer, but freshman relief pitcher Anthony Cortez was able to strike out Kris Bryant to end the game with a pair of runners on base.
Bryant, the nation's top home run hitter coming into the game, went 0-for-5 at the plate.
In addition to his five hits, Ring scored twice, had two RBIs and stole a base. He became the first Matador with five hits in a game since TS Reed did it against Sacramento State on March 27, 2010.
"Five-for-five is great but I'll take a win against this team," said Ring. "We needed a good win against a good opponent."
Livingston (2-for-4), Attl (2-for-4) and Goossen-Brown (2-for-4) also turned in multiple-hit performances for Northridge.
Reliever Louis Cohen (1-1) pitched 1.0 inning and earned his first win of the season while Cortez picked up his first career save. Bayless (2-2) allowed a pair of runs in 1.2 innings and took the loss for USD.
Cal State Northridge has now won five straight for the first time since March 16-21, 2010. The Matadors open Big West Conference play this week on the road at Long Beach State. First pitch from Blair Field is set for Thursday, March 28, at 6 p.m.