DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –
A two-out rally in extra innings proved to be the difference as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (1-1) defeated the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (1-1) 2-1 in 11 innings on Saturday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Alexis Mercado's double set up Chester Pak's RBI single to give CSUN head coach Greg Moore his first career victory.
"Bryce Rutherford steadied the group from the outset. It's a win for the group, it's a win for Cal State Northridge," said Moore. "It was a fun one because we got to watch this group compete. We failed to execute in a few situations and the game shouldn't have gone to extra innings. We need to play better than we did tonight."
The Matadors opened the scoring in the top of the third inning off the bat of Brett Balkan. After Daniel Timmerman drew a one-out walk, Balkan drove him in with a sharp double into the left field corner.
Bethune-Cookman responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game at one run apiece. Matt Noble drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs and Noble at third, Jake Welch singled to center field to score the run.
The Wildcats had an opportunity to push more runs across in the bottom of the sixth inning, but CSUN starting pitcher Brycen Rutherford and center fielder Ranny Lowe combined to strand three runners on base. Bethune-Cookman had two runners on with one out before Lowe made a diving catch in center field to save a certain run. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rutherford induced a ground ball to third base to end the inning.
A two-out triple in the bottom of the seventh for Welch gave the Wildcats another chance to take the lead. John Salas entered the game for Rutherford and got the final out of the inning on just two pitches to keep the game tied.
Shay Maltese relieved Salas with one out in the eighth inning to make his first appearance for the Matadors since March 12, 2013, at UCLA. He got out of a jam in the eighth and retired the Wildcats in order in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, Maltese allowed a leadoff single and a one-out stolen base before getting a pair of fly outs to end the danger.
With two outs in the top of the 11th, Mercado jumpstarted the offense for CSUN with a double to left field. Nicolas Osuna entered the game as a pinch runner and scored on an RBI single by Pak to give the Matadors a 2-1 lead.
Maltese (1-0) set down Bethune-Cookman in order in the 11th to seal the victory. He finished the game with 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K for the Matadors to pick up the win while Chris Waltermire (0-1) took the loss for the Wildcats. The victory was the first for Maltese in a Northridge uniform.
"What was great for Shay was how he went through his pre-pitch routine and executed," added Moore. "He wanted to execute better than he did. He attacked every pitch because he took a breath and picked up his target on each pitch he made. What I'm most proud of is he extended beyond his personal best inning load tonight."
The Matadors and Wildcats will close out their three-game series on Sunday at 8 a.m. (PT) at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. CSUN will then return to California to take on defending national champion UCLA on the road on Tuesday night.