HUNTSVILLE, Texas -
Cal State Northridge was the better team for eight innings on Saturday, but a first-inning home run for No. 20 Sam Houston State led the Bearkats (12-3) to a 2-1 win over the Matadors (6-9) at Don Sanders Stadium. After allowing a two-run home run early, the Matadors rallied to score a run in the sixth but were unable to find the equalizer late.
"We're working to get where we don't know we are on the road or who we're playing," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "The game is the challenge."
With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Bearkats catcher Anthony Azar hit a home run to left field that scored Colt Atwood. Atwood reached base earlier in the inning on a double down the right field line that got caught up in fencing at the ballpark and prevented him from attempting to stretch the hit to a triple.
The Matadors had a chance to get a run back in the top of the third inning but trouble on the basepaths came back to haunt CSUN. Ryan Raslowsky singled with two outs and stole second but was then caught stealing while trying to take third as Chester Pak drew a walk.
Cal State Northridge also had a runner reach third base with two outs in the fourth and fifth innings but were kept from driving a run home.
The Matadors were able to bring across a run for the first time in the series after loading the bases in the top of the sixth. Nick Blaser singled to left field, Michael Livingston reached on an error and Alexis Mercado also singled to left field with no outs.
After a pop fly was caught for the first out of the inning, Ranny Lowe hit a grounder that allowed Blaser to score from third with two outs. A ground ball to the third baseman kept further runs from scoring for the Matadors.
A pair of singles with one out in the eighth inning for the Matadors nearly jumpstarted a rally, but they were followed by back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
CSUN starting pitcher Brycen Rutherford (1-2) was given the loss after striking out three and scattering seven hits in 7.1 innings. He has now recorded four quality starts in four appearances this season. Sam Odom (3-0) allowed an unearned run on six hits in 5.0 innings to get the win for Sam Houston State.
Raslowsky, Mercado and Nicolas Osuna each had two hits in the game for Northridge. Pak went 1-for-3 and also drew a pair of walks.
The Matadors and Bearkats will close out their series on Sunday, March 9, at 11 a.m. PT. Cal State Northridge will then return home for a Monday afternoon game against Utah Valley at 2 p.m. at Matador Field and will be the sixth game in seven days for the Matadors.
"Playing a good schedule offers a game speed that is instructive," added Moore. "We want that."