April 28, 2009
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - A two-run home run by Cal State Northridge (17-26) catcher Chris Hannick helped the Matadors take an 8-7 lead over the UNLV Rebels (23-21) going into the latter-third of the game. But a five-run seventh inning by the host Rebels would be the difference in the game as CSUN was defeated in the first of two games scheduled to take place in Las Vegas by a score of 13-8.
With the winds clocked between 15-20 miles per hour throughout the pregame warm-up for both teams blowing from home plate to the entire outfield, any routine fly ball had the power to morph into a home run candidate; the crowd in attendance witnessed this first-hand in the bottom of the very first inning when a routine fly hit by Rebel third baseman Jarred Frierson found a home on the other side of the fence to give UNLV an early 3-0 lead.
That lead would not last long as the Matadors roared back throughout the next innings to create a number of scoring opportunities that would enable CSUN to not only erase the initial deficit, but take the outright lead.
Hannick was then hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases for Brian Slover who drove in the first two runs for CSUN with his single up the middle to chop the Rebel lead down to 3-2.
Justin DeMarco continued the string of Matador hits with his single that bounced off the grass into the air at such a height that it prevented the Rebel shortstop from even making a throw on the play as DeMarco nearly made it to first before the ball descended from the heavens into the glove of the Rebel defender.
Second baseman Tommy Simis then reached on a fielder's choice, enabling Hannick to score and tie the game.
The Matadors would take the lead the very next inning, albeit under unusual circumstances as Pineda would strike out swinging for the third out of the inning.
The pitch he tried to hit ended up squirting by Rebel catcher Chad Claus, enabling Pineda to sprint down the baseline and take first base.
He would then take second base on a passed ball thrown by Rebel starter Corey Hales before Dabbs drove him home from second base with a hard-hit shot through the left side of the infield to give the Matadors their first lead of the evening at 4-3.
For the third consecutive inning, this time with two outs in the fourth, the Matadors lit up the scoreboard once again as Northridge scored another two runs on two hits to extend their lead to 6-3.
DeMarco was the first Matador to take a base in the inning on a single to the shortstop, and was soon joined on base by C.J. Belanger when he drew a five-pitch walk.
Jeff Pruitt then singled to the shortstop, forcing Rebel shortstop Anthony Morel to hurry his throw in attempt to beat the speedy Matador centerfielder to the bag. Instead of recording the final out of the inning, Morel could only watch in disgust as his throw sailed over the head of his first baseman giving both DeMarco and Belanger an opportunity to score on the throwing error.
With both baserunners initially running on the play, the Matadors would have originally had the bases loaded; with both runners keenly aware of the circumstances unfolding on the diamond during that specific play, both were able to easily score to stretch the lead to three runs.
UNLV would quickly respond with two runs of their own after hitting a triple, a double, and a single to shave the Matador lead to 6-5 before being retired in the bottom of the fourth.
The Matador lead would eventually disappear in the bottom of the fifth when Rebel designated hitter Ryan Thornton drove in third baseman Jarred Frierson who originally reached base on a walk for the first run of the frame, followed by another Rebel single that would enable the second Rebel in the inning to cross home plate.
Northridge would snatch the lead away from the Rebels thanks to a scoring opportunity created in the top of the seventh when Pineda reached base on a single, followed by Hannick's fourth home run of the season which enabled his team to retake the lead by a score of 8-7.
As quickly as Northridge took the lead, the Rebels took it right back due to a five-run seventh inning constructed from four singles, an error, two walks, and a sacrifice bunt.
Even though UNLV added another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, the damage created in the previous inning was enough for the Rebels to secure the victory by a final score of 13-8.
Both teams will return to the diamond Wednesday afternoon as the Matadors look to split the two games in Las Vegas and win the season series. Baseball fans can follow all the action live via GameTracker by visiting www.GoMatadors.com, first pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Matadors 031 200 200 - 8 10 2
UNLV 300 220 51x - 13 16 1
Win - Goodman (2-1) Loss - Jolicoeur (2-4)
T - 3:11 A - 371