IRVINE, Calif. –
Despite scoring three late runs for the second game in a row, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (13-21, 2-6 Big West) were edged by the UC Irvine Anteaters (23-11, 7-1 Big West) 5-4 in a Big West Conference game Saturday afternoon at Anteater Ballpark. The Matadors put up three runs in the eighth inning and had the tying run in scoring position in the ninth before the game was over.
"The team is close, but this team has to ask what it is going to do about that," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "Is being on the cusp going to propel us forward? Or is going to drive us in the wrong direction? I think the players will give us the right answer."
The Matadors got out to a fast start when Ranny Lowe doubled in the first at-bat of the game but he was stranded at third in the inning. CSUN scratched across the first run of the game, however, when a double play in the infield allowed Nicolas Osuna to score from third in the top of the second.
UC Irvine was able to tie the game in the bottom of the inning after a pair of singles put runners at the corners. Mikey Duarte then executed a squeeze bunt down the first base line to tie the game at 1-1.
The Anteaters scored four more times before the Matadors began to rally, and plated two in the fifth inning on a fielding error and a passed ball. A run in the bottom of the sixth came across on a two-out RBI single from Duarte and Jerry McClanahan picked up an RBI in the seventh to give UC Irvine a 5-1 lead.
The Matadors began to turn things around in the top of the eighth when they were able to get to relief pitcher Mitch Merten and forced closer Sam Moore to enter the game. AB Blanchet picked up a pinch-hit single to start the rally and Ryan Raslowsky singled as well before Chester Pak's RBI hit brought in a run.
Nick Blaser followed with a two-run double to the left field corner off of Moore to bring CSUN within a run at 5-4. The Anteaters were able to hold off the Matadors to end the inning and keep the lead intact.
In the ninth, the Matadors had runners at first and second with one out but a strikeout and ground out ended the game.
A different player recorded each of CSUN's nine hits in the game while Blaser led the way with two RBIs.
Jerry Keel (0-7) struck out a season-high seven batters in 5.1 innings but took the loss while UC Irvine starter Elliot Surrey (5-2) had seven strikeouts as well in a winning effort. Moore was credited with his 15th save of the season.
The Matadors and Anteaters will close out their season series on Sunday, April 13, with a 1 p.m. game at Anteater Ballpark. John Salas will get the start for the Matadors while Evan Brock is slated to pitch for UC Irvine.
"Salas is a steady pitch-executor," added Moore. "We are happy to have him going on the mound tomorrow and he will do a very professional job."