March 29, 2008

Back-and-Forth Ballgame Goes to Gauchos

March 29, 2008

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Phil Hann turned in another impressive outing for the Matadors (10-12, 0-2), but defensive and base-running lapses proved costly, and Northridge dropped a heart-breaker to UC Santa Barbara Saturday at UCSB. Richard Cates and Billy Swanson continued their dominance on the offensive side for Northridge.

Hann gave up a run in the top of the second, but it was Northridge that turned the tables on the Gauchos in the third. The Matadors had seven consecutive runners reach base in that inning, including five straight singles, and hung a five on the board for the frame. Key to the inning was a two RBI single for freshman catcher Chris Hannick. Cates and Swanson each took advantage of a lumbering defense to beat out bunt singles in the inning.

The lead, however, slowly evaporated for Northridge. A single and home run cut the Matador lead to two in the fourth and an RBI double slimmed the advantage to one in the sixth. In the sixth, TS Reed committed a throwing error on the frame's opening play that would prove costly. Three unearned runs would come around as a direct effect of the miscue.

The Matadors did rebound from the seemingly devastating sixth. In the eighth, a strange sequence of events put Northridge back in the ballgame. First, Justin DeMarco led things off with a single through the left side. C.J. Belanger then walked to put runners on first and second, and a walk of Reed loaded the sacks for Drew Muren. Muren tapped a grounder back to the pitcher, who alertly tossed to home plate to get DeMarco. A man later it was John Parham smacking a seeming double play ball, but when second baseman Steve Cook's toss arrived at second, shortstop Shane Carlson lost the handle and did not get the force or the turn. Muren, however, sliding into second, stumbled over the bag and was tagged easily for out number two. In a gutsy maneuver, Cates completed a successful drag bunt for his second bunt single, this time scoring the tying run. Ryan Pineda grounded out to first to end the threat.

In the ninth, Edwin Quirarte was continuing the run he had started late in the eighth, retiring the first two batters he saw. Things unraveled from there, and three straight singles brought home the game-winning score. 8-7 was the final count.

The Matadors return to the diamond Sunday for the finale of their Big West Conference season-opening series at UCSB. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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