Matadors Stun No. 8 UCLA 4-1


After jumping out to an early lead, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (30-18) clamped down defensively to upset the No. 8 UCLA Bruins (31-14) 4-1 on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Matadors scored three runs in the first inning and added an insurance run in the eighth to earn their first win against UCLA since 2008.

"This is a great group of guys and what we've been trying to do over the last three years is just create the expectation to win, no matter where we're playing or who we're playing, no matter what the match up is," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "The bottom line is it's a tribute to Nate Ring, Kyle Attl, Josh Goossen-Brown and Cal Vogelsang, the seniors who have continued to stay with this and continue to push themselves to a level where they're able to compete with anybody in the country."

The Northridge offense got out to a hot start against UCLA starter Cody Poteet, plating three runs in the opening frame to produce all the runs the team would need. Poteet (3-5) left the game after allowing three runs on two hits in 0.2 innings. 

After Michael Livingston drew a four-pitch walk to start off the game, Kyle Attl reached on an infield single that chopped past Poteet on the mound. Nathan Ring then walked to load the bases.

Joshua Goossen-Brown, the Big West Conference leader in RBIs, then grounded into a double play on the right side of the infield that scored Livingston from third. The next batter, Cal Vogelsang, was hit by a pitch before executing a double steal with Attl at third to put the Matadors ahead 2-0. Alexis Mercado followed with an RBI double down the left field line to score Vogelsang. 

UCLA scored its lone run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning to cut the margin to 3-1. Eric Filia doubled and scored on an RBI single by Kevin Williams. Following the run, Oscar Sandoval came in to pitch in relief of Brycen Rutherford and ended up pitching a career-high 2.0 innings with a career-high three strikeouts.

"It is big for me and big for the team," said Sandoval. "Coach told me to come in and pound the zone, pitch to contact because I know my defense is right behind me and that's what I did. I came in, threw some strikes and it all worked out."

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bruins nearly tied the game and took the lead but two long fly balls were tracked down on the warning track to keep the CSUN lead intact. 

In the top of the eighth, Northridge put across an insurance run to build a 4-1 cushion. Chester Pak reached on an error and stole second before moving up to third on a sacrifice bunt by William Colantono. With Nicolas Osuna batting, the Bruins attempted a pitch out to guard against a squeeze bunt but the ball sailed past the catcher and Pak slid under a tag at the plate.

CSUN's usual Friday starter Jerry Keel entered to pitch the eighth inning and worked around a leadoff single to get through unscathed. Goossen-Brown pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his ninth save of the season, moving him into a tie for first all-time at CSUN with 14 career saves.

Sandoval (2-0) allowed just one hit in 2.0 innings to pick up the win for the Matadors while Poteet took the loss.

"It's not easy for a freshman to come in to a place like this, a night game, a program like this and just do what he's been doing but he was able to do that," added Curtis.

Livingston led the CSUN attack by going 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and a run scored. As a team, the Matadors drew eight walks and were hit by two pitches.

Northridge will return to Big West play this weekend with a three-game series against UC Santa Barbara at Matador Field. First pitch on Friday, May 10, is scheduled for 3 p.m.