SANTA BARBARA, Calif. –
Cal State Northridge never trailed on the day as the Matadors (18-32, 6-12 Big West) defeated the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (29-15-1, 9-12 Big West) 4-1 on Mother's Day at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Chester Pak had three hits, including two doubles to lead the Matadors to a Mother's Day victory for the fourth consecutive season.
"We took advantage of miscues by following their errors with quality at-bats today," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore.
The Matadors jumped out to an early lead, their first of the series, by scoring three runs in the top of the first. Ranny Lowe was hit by the first pitch of the game and moved up to second on a Ryan Raslowsky sacrifice bunt that set the stage for a two-out rally.
Nick Blaser hit a chopper to shortstop that was misplayed and redirected to second baseman Woody Woodward. Lowe alertly sprinted for home on the initial error and Woodward's throw to the plate went wide as the run scored and Blaser took second.
Jordan Johnson worked efficiently on the mound for the Matadors and retired the first four hitters of the afternoon before a one-out single in the bottom of the second. Tyler Kuresa hit a hard grounder to first base to open the second, but William Colantono's diving stab kept the runner off the bases.
Johnson also got help from his fielders in the bottom of the third when Lowe made a spectacular diving catch going toward the warning track in left center field.
The Matadors built off of the momentum in the top of the fifth inning, scoring a run to increase the lead to 4-0. Raslowsky and Nick Murphy opened the inning with singles before Garbella's sacrifice fly to center field scored a run with two outs.
The Gauchos started to chip away in the bottom of the sixth but Johnson and the Matadors were able to limit the damage. A leadoff double and a hit by pitch put runners at the corners with no outs before Johnson struck out Peter Maris. Greg Mahle then hit an RBI single to right field that scored a run for UCSB, but Johnson recovered by inducing a double play ball to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Gauchos found themselves in the same situation with runners on the corners and nobody out. Shay Maltese entered the game for Johnson and got a looking strikeout and a shallow pop fly before getting pinch hitter Billy Fredrick to strike out swinging to end the inning with the 4-1 lead intact.
"I just wanted to come in and first off make pitches," said Maltese. "Coming off of my last appearance when I let down my teammate, I just wanted to get back in there and come through."
Maltese retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth innings to earn his seventh save of the season.
Johnson (3-4) allowed just one run on six hits in 6.0 innings to get the win for the Matadors while Shane Bieber (2-4) conceded four runs on eight hits in 4.0 innings to take the loss for UCSB.
In addition to Pak, Raslowsky (2-for-4) and Murphy (2-for-5) also collected multiple-hit games for CSUN.
"It's fun when your mom is in the stands or you are playing for someone that you really care about," said Pak, who hit two home runs against UCSB on Mother's Day last season. "Today is a special day. My mom was here and I just wanted to do really well for her."
The Matadors will return home for the final time this season when the team takes on the Cal Poly Mustangs in a three-game series next weekend. First pitch on Friday, May 16 at Matador Field is scheduled for 3 p.m.