CSUN baseball completes sweep of UC Riverside

Matadors catcher Graysen Tarlow, 8, waits for a pitch during CSUN’s game against UC Riverside on Friday, March 31, 2023, at Matador Field in Northridge, Calif.

Charlie Gonzalez, Sports Writer

The Matadors baseball team defeated the UC Riverside Highlanders 13-7 in the third and final game of the series to improve to 17-6 overall.

Early on, it looked like a bullpen game for UC Riverside, with three different pitchers stepping on the mound in the first three innings. The pitching change after the first inning from Blake Burzell to Jake Gebb resulted in CSUN batting around. The Matadors scored six runs and earned four hits while Gebb was on the mound, handing the lefty his third loss of the season.

CSUN experienced woes on the mound as well. Kenji Pallares was pulled in the middle of an at-bat in the fifth inning with a 2-0 pitch count after surrendering five runs, the fifth coming on a wild pitch. Xavier Martinez, who stepped in for Pallares and picked up his third win of the season, threw four strikeouts and gave up one earned run.

“I think the pitching change was a big factor, coach Eddie Cornejo said. “I give a lot of credit to our offense by responding when they put up runs. That took pressure off of Martinez once he pitched in the sixth and seventh innings. He’s been able to get us out of jams since conference play started.”

Fans in attendance got a rare opportunity to see not one, but two pickles. Late in the game, with a comfortable lead to fall back on, Jakob Simons and Mason Le decided to take some risks, but were each tagged out as live runners while attempting to steal second and third base, respectively.

Closing pitcher Hayden Cody finished with one strikeout and one earned run. Because CSUN’s lead was greater than three, he was not credited with the save.

The Matadors’ second baseman Shunsuke Sakaino had a stellar game, going 4-for-4 while scoring three runs and two RBIs.

“After the first two wins, I just wanted to get the dub,” Sakaino said. “Because of the series loss, I don’t think they tried to do anything special, so I just tried to pass the baton.”

In total, the Matadors gained 13 runs and 17 hits, while committing two errors. The 13-run performance from the Matadors put them at 51 total for the three-game series, one more than they had in their series against Riverside in 2019. This is the most the Matadors have scored since they put up 57 in a three-game series against Manhattan College in 2018.

The Matadors hosted Cal Baptist today, Monday, and secured the victory, 12-3. Now, the team will begin a seven-game road trip. CSUN will first travel to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia for a three-game series starting April 6, and will finish the trip on April 18 at USC.