May 11, 2008

Northridge Has to Settle for Split With USC After 8-2 Loss

May 11, 2008

Box Score

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Cal State Northridge (22-26) opened the scoring with two first-inning runs bu faltered down the stretch in a 8-2 Matador loss at the hands of the USC Trojans (23-26). Richard Cates and Drew Muren had two hits each in defeat.

The Matadors gave their starter, Ryan Juarez, a head start in the first inning. Before the freshman right-hander had even made his first pitch he was pegged to a two-run lead, courtesy of a two-out rally that featured four consecutive base hits that started with a Richard Cates double and ended with a John Parham RBI single.

Once on the mound, Juarez got into a bit of trouble in the opening frame. Trojan leadoff man Nick Buss smacked an 0-1 fastball into the corner in right field for a double, and a grounder out to shortstop Jason Dabbs moved him to third. Juarez then put Grant Green on first with a walk, who stole second. With two men in scoring position, Juarez rung up clean up man Derek Perren on a swinging strike out and, after walking Keith Castillo to load the bases, surrendered a game-tying single passed the diving TS Reed that scored two. Hector Rabago cued a grounder over to Reed at first to end the frame.

After a quiet top of the second the Trojans got back to the bats, manufacturing a run on another leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt, and a ground out. Juarez was able to limit the damage to the one run, however, with a ground out from Green.

Juarez finally hung a blank frame in the third, when he benefited from a 4-6-3 double play that erased a bunt single.

The Matador offense was given a scoring chance in the fourth, when C.J. Belanger smacked a single and was able to advance to third on a two-base throwing error on USC catcher Robert Stock, who was attempting a back pick at first. Pitcher Ryan Cook picked up the slack, however, striking out Dabbs and Pruitt to retire the side.

USC got the leadoff man aboard again in the bottom of the fourth when Hector Rabago slapped a pitch through the left field, but another Northridge double play erased the base runner and Juarez fanned Joe De Pinto to end the inning.

Another Trojan miscue put the Matadors in position to tie the game in the fifth, as Pineda laid down a bunt attempt that Cook muffed on the first base line. Northridge then executed a perfect hit and run play that put Pineda on third and Cates on first, but a Dominic D'Anna ground ball turned double play ended the threat.

The leadoff man was on again in the fifth, this time in the form of Buss, who bunted his way on. USC didn't waste time cashing it in this time; three consecutive hitters managed base hits and two runs had scored before Juarez got a sac fly to record the first out of the frame. Despite recording the out, Juarez was lifted in favor of Eric Billings.

Billings entered in a tight spot, with a man on third and just one out. Billings induced a run-scoring grounder for out number two and got Rabago to fly out to left field to finish the inning. The four-run fourth sent the Trojans to a commanding 7-2 lead.

USC added another run in the sixth to push the leading margin to six.

Meanwhile, Northridge remained cold on the offensive side. Despite putting runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, zeroes adorned the Northridge side in every frame after the first, culminating in a 1-2-3 ninth that froze the final score at 8-2.

Cates and Muren each notched two hits, but three double plays undid much of the Matadors' momentum. Just nine Matadors went to the plate after the sixth inning.

After Juarez, the Northridge bullpen did a nice job of limiting the Trojans. Eric Billings

The Matadors have a quick turnaround from the loss as they host Portland for a pair of non-conference contests on Monday and Tuesday. First pitch Monday is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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