SANTA BARBARA, Calif. –
Cal State Northridge put together a rally in the sixth inning but it was not enough as the Matadors (17-31, 5-11 Big West) fell 4-3 to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (28-14-1, 8-11 Big West) on Friday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The Matadors nearly erased a 4-0 deficit but could not complete the comeback.
"It's about having a clear plan when you get to the plate. We had guys do that today and take good at-bats," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "I thought we did a pretty good job of stringing things together but we didn't get the big hit."
Ranny Lowe opened the game with an infield single, one of four hits on the day for the senior centerfielder. Lowe bested his previous season high of three hits and became the fourth Matador this year with four hits in a game.
The Matadors put together a pair of singles in the top of the first but left a runner at second base after Nick Murphy got a hit and Ryan Raslowsky was out trying to steal third base. The Gauchos were able to get a pair of runners on base in the bottom half of the inning following two walks but CSUN starter Brycen Rutherford got help from Murphy in catching a runner stealing to end the inning.
UCSB scored the first runs of the game in the bottom of the third, all with two outs. After Cameron Newell picked up the first hit for the Gauchos to open the inning, a sacrifice bunt and a deep fly ball moved him to third. Peter Maris, Robby Nesovic and Andrew Calica each collected run-scoring hits in the inning to put UCSB ahead 4-0.
CSUN fought back, however, and took advantage of defensive mistakes by the Gauchos to get within a run. In the top of the sixth, Nick Blaser reached on a fielding error by the third baseman before Nico Garbella's double down the right field line put a pair of runners in scoring position.
Brett Balkan then hit a routine grounder that was booted at second, allowing Blaser to score from third to make it 4-1. After Balkan stole second and Nicolas Osuna was hit by a pitch, William Colantono drove in two runs with a single to right center to cut the deficit to 4-3.
The Matadors had a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning but left a man at second and had a runner thrown out at third in the top of the eighth for the third out.
Lowe (4-for-5) led the way at the plate for CSUN while Murphy, Garbella and Colantono each had a pair of hits. Murphy also caught two runners stealing to improve his season total to five.
Rutherford (4-5) allowed four runs on six hits in 7.0 innings to take the loss for the Matadors while Justin Jacome (6-2) surrendered three unearned runs in 5.2 innings for the win. Dillon Tate pitched the final 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball to earn credit for his 11th save.
The Matadors and Gauchos will continue their Big West Conference series on Saturday, May 10, in Santa Barbara. First pitch at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is scheduled for 2 p.m.