NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Trailing by as much as 7-2, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (25-18, 11-4 Big West) rallied for an 8-7 walkoff win in 11 innings over the Pacific Tigers (10-28, 3-12 Big West) on Sunday afternoon at Matador Field. Northridge scored five runs in the eighth and the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Cal Vogelsang to complete its third sweep of a conference opponent this season.
"It's just a resilient group. We've had a lot of adversity throughout the year with injuries and other setbacks. There's character in this group," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "Guys put good at-bats together when they had to and we hope not to put ourselves in that position very often, but when we do it's good to see the character and the toughness come through."
The Tigers were plagued by defensive miscues for nearly the entire game as their pitching staff allowed six unearned runs following three Pacific errors. Northridge scored runs in the first and second innings to lead 2-0 after two errors allowed runners to reach base.
In the first, Nathan Ring reached on a two-out error by Dustin Torchio at third and promptly stole second base. Joshua Goossen-Brown followed with an RBI double to left center that scored Ring easily.
In the bottom of the second, Alexis Mercado reached on a dropped fly ball to right field by Gio Brusa and advanced to second on the play. Vogelsang moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt before Nicolas Osuna brought the run home with a sac fly to left field.
Pacific answered with a run in the third to cut the lead in half for what would be the first of seven straight runs for the Tigers. After a single for JP Yakel and a sac bunt, Torchio drove Yakel in from second with two outs.
The Tigers scored three times in the seventh to take their first lead of the series. Four straight singles, capped by an RBI for Yakel, tied the game at two apiece before another run came across on a double play ball. Pinch hitter Taylor Murphy finished the spurt off with a single that scored Tyler Sullivan from third with two outs.
Three more Pacific runs in the eighth gave the Tigers a 7-2 advantage that proved to be short lived. Brusa hit an RBI triple and Brett Sullivan drove in a pair of runs with two outs.
The Matadors responded in a big way, scoring five runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 7-7. Goossen-Brown led things off by being hit by a pitch before Chester Pak moved him to third with a double down the left field line.
Mercado then struck out swinging but the throw to first after the dropped third strike hit him and caromed into the outfield, allowing Goossen-Brown to score. Vogelsang then brought in Pak with a sac fly before Livingston picked up an RBI single to cut the deficit to 7-5. Both Kyle Attl and Ring then singled to tie the game and send new life into the Northridge lineup.
In the bottom of the 11th, CSUN put an end to the game without the benefit of a hit in the inning. Ring walked and Goossen-Brown advanced him with a sac bunt. Ring then moved to third on a wild pitch and both Pak and Mercado walked to load the bases with one out. Vogelsang then delivered his second sac fly of the game to bring in Ring and give CSUN the victory.
Goossen-Brown (2-2) pitched the final 2.1 innings and allowed just one hit to earn the win in relief for Northridge. Kevin Hammann (2-3) did not allow a hit but walked three batters in the loss.
Vogelsang led the Matadors with a 1-for-3 day at the plate, including two RBIs, two sac flies and a sac bunt. Both Ring and Attl went 2-for-5 on the day with a run batted in and Ring scored twice.
"This means everything," said Attl. "We're in a mindset now where it doesn't matter how we are gonna do it, we're just gonna find a way and keep grinding."
Cal State Northridge, alone in second place in the Big West, will take a day off from conference play and travel to the University of San Diego for a non-conference test on Tuesday, April 30. First pitch from Fowler Park is scheduled for 6 p.m.