May 20, 2011
LONG BEACH, Calif. -
Vincent Roberts allowed just four hits en route to the first complete game shutout thrown by a Matador in over five years as Cal State Northridge (22-29, 5-14 Big West) blanked the Long Beach State Dirtbags (25-26, 8-11 Big West) 2-0 at Blair Field on Friday night.
Roberts' masterpiece was the first such game pitched for Northridge since Edwin Quirarte accomplished the feat on April 30, 2006 at UC Santa Barbara. Roberts faced 34 batters and needed just 95 pitches to give the Matadors their first road conference win of the season.
Roberts was locked in a pitching duel for much of the evening with Long Beach's Andrew Gagnon, who pitched 7.1 innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out four.
The first hit of the game came in the top of the second inning on a one-out double by catcher Marty Bowen, his third two-bagger of the season. Bowen was not able to score, however, but the Matadors got their next hit and their first run in the top of the third.
After Roberts set down three straight Dirtbags in the bottom of the second, TS Reed walked for Northridge with one out in the third. Ridge Carpenter put down a sacrifice bunt to move Reed over to second and Adam Barry doubled to right center field with two outs to give Northridge a 1-0 lead.
Roberts' perfect game was broken up with two outs in the third inning as the ninth hitter in the order, Royce Murai, landed a single down the right field line.
Designated hitter Steven Keller led off the Northridge fourth inning with a single through the left side of the infield on the first pitch and advanced to second with two outs following a sacrifice bunt by Tommy Simis. The next hitter, Miles Williams, singled to left field to score Keller and give the Matadors a final margin of 2-0.
The best chance for Long Beach State to score came in the bottom of the fifth inning as they loaded the bases with two outs. The Dirtbags had runners on first and second to open the frame on a single and fielder's choice and moved the runners to second and third with one out on a sacrifice bunt.
Roberts got the next hitter to ground out to third base before walking Matt Hibbert to load the bases. Then, with two outs, Jeff McNeil hit a soft fly ball to no-man's-land in left field. Carpenter got a good read on the ball and caught the ball below his knees running into foul territory for the third out, his momentum eventually causing him to tumble over the low railing and into the Long Beach State bullpen.
"I just said [to Carpenter], `Thanks for catching that,'" said Roberts. "It was great and I didn't think he was going to get to it. That was huge."
That momentum would carry Roberts and the Matadors' defense the rest of the way, as Long Beach State only put two runners on base in the final four innings on just one hit.
A one-two-three ninth inning sealed the shutout for Roberts, who had just one thing on his mind.
"I just wanted to be the one to finish the game because everything felt good and they couldn't hit what I threw," he said. "My whole approach was to let them hit the ball because the park is big. Let them hit it because it isn't going to go out."
Roberts became the first Matador pitcher to throw a complete game since teammate Paul Tremlin did it against UC Davis on May 2, 2010 at Matador Field. Tremlin will be the starting pitcher on Saturday against the Dirtbags.
Both Barry and Williams finished the game 1-for-3 with an RBI. Roberts (2-6, 3.75 ERA) added three strikeouts to one walk and a hit batsman over the course of the contest.
The series resumes with a 2 p.m. game on Saturday at Blair Field, with the finale set for Sunday at 1 p.m.