Matadors make history against Titans


Sam Landau

Sundial file photo from CSUN’s 2022 baseball season.

Brandon Lopez, Reporter

CSUN baseball (20-17, 9-9 Big West Conference) has made history yet again after their three-game 2-1 series victory over Cal State Fullerton (15-22, 9-6).

The Matadors had not beaten the Titans in a three-game series since 2002. Since then, the Titans have managed to win 17 straight series over the Matadors from 2003 to 2019.

CSUN coach Dave Serrano noted that it was a special night, not only for the team but also himself. Serrano has a deep history with the Titans, where he won a national championship in 2004 as an assistant coach.

“It wasn’t just another series. It was an emotional series just due to the fact that I spent so many years at Cal State Fullerton,” Serrano said. “It was going to be the last time that I was ever going to be able to compete against a school that kind of formed my life and my career.”

The Matadors delivered on what was a special series for Serrano.

Game one was a neck-and-neck battle where both teams matched each other’s play. The Matadors posted six hits compared to the Titans’ four.

CSUN committed three errors whereas the Titans only committed two, in what was the difference-maker that allowed the Titans to escape with a 3-2 win.

“This season has been a lot of bounce back games. We lost the first game in the series, our next thing is to get after it the next two [games],” CSUN designated hitter Gabe Gonzalez said. “We’ve always had that mentality. That’s the most important part in the conference is winning a series.”

Game two was indeed a bounce back game. Freshman pitcher Diego Gutierrez got the nod to start, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings before being relieved by senior pitcher Blake Sodersten.

Sodersten pitched the remaining 6.1 innings, throwing eight strikeouts while allowing just six hits and one earned run.

The Matadors’ solid pitching complimented the six hits they had for the game, as they would go on to take the win 2-1.

“It’s really helped our pitching staff. It’s not a coincidence the last two weeks we’ve pitched as good as we pitched all year long,” Serrano said. “Blake has had a part in that in two big games where he’s played a big part and a big role in our success over the weekend.”

Game three came down to the wire as it was tied at two apiece for six innings. It was not until the seventh inning that it all changed.

Gonzalez came into the game for his first at-bat after not playing in game two due to recent struggles with his batting.

With two runners on, Gonzalez launched a go-ahead three-run home run, giving the Matadors a 5-2 lead. CSUN later won the game and the series.

“I wasn’t really thinking much. I’ve been thinking way too much prior and that’s probably why I’ve been struggling,” Gonzalez said. “After hitting the home run, it kind of felt like a monkey was off my back.”