NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
A late rally spelled the difference as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (11-16, 0-2 Big West) were defeated by the Long Beach State Dirtbags (13-12, 2-0) 4-3 on Saturday afternoon at Matador Field. Prior to the game, the Matadors honored legendary head coach and athletic director Bob Hiegert by retiring his uniform number in an on-field ceremony.
"We generated some runs without very many hits and that's a credit to our offense," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "But we've got to be able to continue to play and we've got to be able to tack a few on in the second half of the game."
For the second consecutive game the Dirtbags jumped out to a lead in the first inning. With one out, Garrett Hampson hit a home run that just cleared the left field fence.
The Matadors responded with a run in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1. Ranny Lowe opened the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Raslowsky. After Chester Pak grounded out to move Lowe to third, Nick Blaser came through with an RBI single to right field.
Cal State Northridge took the lead in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs to go ahead 3-1. Brett Balkan was hit by a pitch to open the frame and moved up to second when Lowe drew a four-pitch walk. Raslowsky then reached on a bunt single and Pak brought home Balkan with a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Nicolas Osuna hit a single down the right field line to drive in Lowe.
"I think that the hitters are starting to relax at the plate a little bit, they're not overprocessing what they do," added Moore. "It's shown up. They're putting good at-bats together.
Long Beach State was able to rally, however, and regained the lead with three runs in the top of the eighth. Hampson hit an RBI double and scored on a triple from Richard Prigatano. Prigatano later scored on a sacrifice fly from Michael Hill.
CSUN starting pitcher Brycen Rutherford recorded his sixth straight quality start by going 7.0 innings with one runs allowed. He also matched a career high with six strikeouts in the no decision. Shay Maltese (2-1) was hit with his first loss on the year while Ryan Millison (2-1) earned the win in relief for LBSU. Kyle Friedrichs pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his fifth save of the season.
Prior to the game, the Matadors unveiled a tribute to former head coach and AD Bob Hiegert, who led the team to two NCAA Division II National Championships in 1970 and 1984. During his 18 seasons at the helm, Hiegert's teams went 609-411-9 (.596).
The Matadors and Dirtbags will close out their series on Sunday, March 30, with a 1 p.m. game at Matador Field. Live stats and a free Internet radio broadcast will be made available on GoMatadors.com.