NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
A pair of late runs were the difference in the game as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (31-25, 15-11 Big West) were defeated by the No. 3 Cal State Fullerton Titans (47-8, 22-4 Big West) 6-4 on Friday afternoon at Matador Field. The two teams were tied going to the eighth inning before a Fullerton home run and an insurance run in the ninth sealed the game.
"The result is disappointing but I'm proud of the guys and I'm proud of the way they competed," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis following the game. "Our execution needed to be a tick better today and that's the level of play. You're facing a Top 5 team in the country and you don't need to be perfect but you need to be pretty sound and you gotta take advantage of a couple opportunities when they leave them."
The Matadors took the lead in the bottom of the first inning against Justin Garza with a two-out RBI by Alexis Mercado. After Michael Livingston singled and Nathan Ring walked, Mercado flared a single to left field to score the run from second.
Northridge increased its advantage to 2-0 with another run in the bottom of the third. With one out, Ring singled up the middle and Cal Vogelsang moved him to third with a hit to left field. Garza was then charged with a balk that allowed Ring to score.
The Titans responded, however, with four runs in the top of the fourth to take brief control of the game against Calvin Copping. With the bases loaded and no outs, Michael Lorenzen was hit by a pitch to force in a run and Anthony Hutting hit a sacrifice fly to center. Chad Wallach followed with an RBI single and the final run of the inning scored on a ground out by Jake Jefferies.
The Matadors chipped away at the deficit though and scratched across a run in the bottom of the fourth inning off of relief pitcher Thomas Eshelman, the usual Friday night starter for Fullerton. With one out, Chester Pak hit a ground-rule double down the left field line and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Miles Williams.
Northridge tied the game with a run in the bottom of the fifth that made the score 4-4. Vogelsang hit a one-out single to left field and advanced to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a single to right field by Joshua Goossen-Brown.
After trading zeros in the sixth and seventh innings, the Titans found a breakthrough in the top of the eighth thanks to a solo home run by Matt Chapman. A sacrifice fly in the ninth by Matt Orloff closed out the scoring for either side.
Vogelsang, Goossen-Brown and Nicolas Osuna all had two hits for Northridge offensively while Osuna also added a stolen base. Williams, making his first appearance since sustaining a foot injury against San Diego on March 26, had one of three RBIs for CSUN.
Chapman went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored as well to lead the Titans. Prior to the game, Northridge had won its last 11 contests when recording at least 10 hits.
Relief pitcher DJ Milam (4-1) pitched 2.1 innings for the Matadors but took the loss while Eshelman (11-2) threw 4.0 innings in a winning effort for Cal State Fullerton. J.D. Davis pitched a scoreless ninth for the Titans for his fourth save of the year.
"A win tomorrow I think would be an exclamation point on the work that our guys have done this year," added Curtis. "It would really show people, or rather I would say remind people, of what this group's accomplished this year."
The regular-season finale for both teams will take place on Saturday, May 25, at 1 p.m. Northridge will honor Ring, Vogelsang and Kyle Attl, the team's three senior members, before the start of the game as each will compete in his last home contest for CSUN.