Matadors drop series to No. 17 Michigan
The baseball team beat the University of Michigan 5-2 in the third and final game of the weekend series Sunday afternoon at Matador Field, though the No. 17 Wolverines won the first two games to win the series 2-1.
The series started on Friday with a 2-1 victory for Michigan on the back of eight shutout innings from junior left-hander Tommy Henry before they also won the second game 4-2 thanks to a 4-RBI performance from sophomore outfielder Jesse Franklin Sunday morning.
The third game, which followed the second as part of a doubleheader due to rain postponing Saturday’s contest, was all CSUN as senior Jayson Newman went 2-4 with a home run, a double and two RBIs to back up senior Isaiah Nunez’s six shutout innings on the mound.
Newman got the Matadors on the board in the fourth inning with a solo blast over the scoreboard in right field, his second of the year, before junior Jose Ruiz singled home junior Angelo Bortolin to double the lead to 2-0 in the sixth.
Senior Wesley Ghan-Gibson hit his first home run of the year just beyond the wall in left field to increase the lead to 3-0 in the seventh inning, though the Wolverines would get one back on junior Christian Bullock’s RBI single in the eighth inning to make it 3-1 in favor of CSUN.
The Matadors would get two more in the bottom half of the eighth to make it 5-1, with Newman driving home Bortolin on an RBI double and Ruiz bringing Newman home on an RBI single.
Senior Jimmy Kerr led off the top of the ninth with a home run to trim the lead to 5-2, but sophomore Blake Schriever went on to strike out the side to end the game as the Matadors claimed the consolation victory by a final score of 5-2.
“We just want to get better all weekend long,” head coach Greg Moore said. “They really can pitch. It helped our hitters improve at the plate. We stayed on some fastballs today. I thought we had good takes against the slider. The loss part of this thing is not as important as improvement. I thought we got better this weekend. We played good baseball.”
Nunez struck out three and allowed just five runners to reach base in his six innings of work to trim his ERA on the season to 2.29 and cap off an excellent weekend of starting pitching from the Matadors.
Nunez, Friday starter Walker Armstrong and Sunday morning starter Wesley Moore combined to throw 18 innings, holding Michigan to nine hits and allowing just four earned runs.
“It’s great. You know, having them go out and compete and work on their craft and throw everything they can for strikes, it’s great,” Newman said. “It’s good to play defense behind and good for the dugout and the offense to get us back in the dugout so we can get back to hitting.”
Schriever came into the game in the seventh inning to relieve Nunez with a man on first base, though he stranded him and had a relatively clean outing, giving up two hits and getting the final nine outs as he earned his third save of the season.
Newman had one of his best series as a Matador at the plate, hitting .500 and reaching base in six of his 11 at-bats, hitting a home run and two doubles to go along with his three RBIs.
“You know, just staying on my approach, sticking with it. Just staying with it, looking for a certain pitch and just sticking with that,” Newman said about what allowed him to have such great at-bats. “Good team win for the guys and looking to move forward to St. John’s on Tuesday.”
After dropping the series against Michigan, the Matadors’ record sits at .500 at 6-6.
Though they have lost three of their last four, those games were all against ranked teams in the form of UCLA and Michigan, and any of the three losses could have gone either way if the ball had bounced a little differently as they scored as many runs (12) as they gave up.
The Matadors play next on Tuesday, March 5 at home against St. John’s at 2 p.m. before heading up north to play Washington State in a three-game series starting Friday, March 8.
They will return home for one game against San Diego State on Tuesday, March 12 at 2 p.m.