Late comeback falls short in loss to Hawaii

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Late comeback falls short in loss to Hawaii

Junior Jose Ruiz walks back to the dugout after striking out to end the eighth inning in the Matadors' 4-3 loss to Hawaii on Friday. Ruiz's strikeout stranded runners at second and third to keep the score tied at three, leaving the door open for the Rainbow Warriors to take the lead and win the game in the ninth. Photo credit: Tyler Wainfeld

Junior Jose Ruiz walks back to the dugout after striking out to end the eighth inning in the Matadors' 4-3 loss to Hawaii on Friday. Ruiz's strikeout stranded runners at second and third to keep the score tied at three, leaving the door open for the Rainbow Warriors to take the lead and win the game in the ninth. Photo credit: Tyler Wainfeld

Junior Jose Ruiz walks back to the dugout after striking out to end the eighth inning in the Matadors' 4-3 loss to Hawaii on Friday. Ruiz's strikeout stranded runners at second and third to keep the score tied at three, leaving the door open for the Rainbow Warriors to take the lead and win the game in the ninth. Photo credit: Tyler Wainfeld

Junior Jose Ruiz walks back to the dugout after striking out to end the eighth inning in the Matadors' 4-3 loss to Hawaii on Friday. Ruiz's strikeout stranded runners at second and third to keep the score tied at three, leaving the door open for the Rainbow Warriors to take the lead and win the game in the ninth. Photo credit: Tyler Wainfeld

Tyler Wainfeld

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Despite erasing a 3-0 deficit in the seventh inning, the baseball team dropped their series-opening game against the University of Hawaii 4-3 on Friday at Matador Field, making it now five straight losses in conference play.

“(Hawaii) did a good job of getting the big hit,” head coach Greg Moore said. “We also allowed too many free base runners. To give up 11 hits and that many base runners, it’s tough to keep the scoring down.”

Sophomore Wesley Moore got the start on the mound and struggled out of the gate, walking the leadoff batter and hitting another, though no damage was done as he got out of the jam without giving up a run.

The Rainbow Warriors would break through in the third inning by loading the bases on a couple of singles and a walk before Wesley walked a run home. They went on to add a couple more runs in the fifth after tagging Moore for three hits in the inning to increase the lead to 3-0.

Wesley would pitch to another three batters in the sixth before coming out in favor of junior Cruz Daddario, having given up six hits and three runs while walking four and striking out four in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision.

“Just too many free bases today, the walks and hit by pitch,” Greg said. “(Wesley Moore) was good in terms of stuff but the command wasn’t where it’s been.”

As Wesley did in his first inning, Daddario also walked the first batter he faced to put two runners on with two outs, though nothing came of it and the deficit would stay at three.

After a scoreless top of the seventh, the Matador bats came alive in the bottom half of the frame as they scored three runs to even up the score. Junior Robert Bullard got the party started with a single up the middle before junior Jose Ruiz Jr. got himself a single off the bench. Freshmen Denzel Clarke and Andrew Lucas then worked back-to-back walks, both on full counts, bringing Bullard home for the first run before Senior Kyle Barret legged out a fielder’s choice to avoid a double play, scoring Ruiz and Clarke to tie the game at three.

“This team always continues to play,” Greg said. “One of the things we’ve done all year is come from behind and that’s because (our players) don’t stop. They will continue to play the game the right away.”

The Matadors nearly took the lead in the eighth inning, threatening with runners on second and third, but Ruiz struck out on three pitches as the Rainbow Warriors quelled the threat.

CSUN would go on to rue that missed chance as Hawaii would score a run in the top of the ninth before shutting the door in the bottom half of the inning to secure the 4-3 victory.

With the score as close as it was, there was not much room for error, and the 3-for-19 day that the Matadors’ three through six hitters put up, was just a microcosm of the team’s inability to put together consistent at-bats.

“You always work to have that middle of the order knock guys in,” Greg said. “We didn’t do that today. We didn’t do it early in the game. Late in the game, we put a little bit of pressure on their defense. Early, we did not.”

Though the result was not in his team’s favor, Lucas had another excellent day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with an RBI and getting on base four times out of the leadoff spot, his third straight game there after spending most of the season in the latter half of the batting order. The freshman outfielder has clearly enjoyed himself up there, going 7 for 12 in those three games with a home run, a double and five RBIs, though he claims that nothing has changed for him, that his approach at the plate remains the same no matter where he is told to hit.

“I’m sticking with what I’ve been doing,” Lucas said. “Just staying simple, getting a pitch that I can hit. It’s just sticking to my plan anywhere that I am in the lineup. It doesn’t matter. I’ll just keep doing my thing.”

Looking ahead

As mentioned before, the loss to Hawaii now makes it four consecutive games without a win in Big West action for the Matadors, who now have a record of 17-23 (4-9 Big West).

They will go right back at it in the second game of the three-game series against Hawaii on Saturday at 1 p.m. Senior Isaiah Nunez is scheduled to start on the mound for the Matadors, while Hawaii is set to send out junior Logan Pouelsen.