Lancers come back late to beat Matadors
The baseball team’s losing streak hit four after giving up a one-run lead in the eighth inning, dropping a tight game to California Baptist University 4-3 on Tuesday at Matador Field.
With the Matadors up 3-2 entering the top of the eighth, junior Cruz Daddario was called out of the bullpen and got the first batter he faced to pop out on the first pitch. It would all go downhill from there, though, as he walked the next batter and gave up a bunt single before walking his final batter to load the bases with just one out.
Junior Michael Cartwright would replace Daddario, but it didn’t get any better as he walked in the tying run, forcing head coach Greg Moore to give him the hook after just one batter as the bases were still loaded with just one out. Freshman Blaine Traxel then came in to put out the fire and despite getting his first batter to fly out, it was deep enough to allow the runner at third to score, giving the Lancers a 4-3 lead. Traxel would go on to strike out the last batter, but the damage had already been done as the Matadors had just six outs to get back in the game.
It wasn’t to be, though, with the Lancers setting the Matadors down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings, holding on to win the game 4-3.
“We gave too many pitches away, gave too many at-bats away,” Moore said. “In the eighth inning, we just didn’t throw strikes with our fastball.”
Senior Cassius Hamm got the start on the mound for the Matadors after missing more than a month with an arm injury. He was effective in two out of the three innings he pitched, giving up two runs on three hits, striking out two while walking none in what could be his last appearance for the Matadors.
“(Hamm) fought to get out there, he fought to stay out there,” Moore said. “He’s pitching injured, in essence … You’ve got to give a guy a lot of credit for going through the therapy sessions in the training room but also fighting to be on the field, no matter what the arm feels like.”
Senior Theron Kay came on to relieve Hamm to start the fourth inning with his team down 2-0 and immediately calmed the storm, getting through his first inning with relative ease.
In the bottom of the inning, junior Blake Doremus came up with runners on first and third and hit an opposite-field 3-run home run to give his team a 3-2 lead. That would be the last output the Matadors would receive offensively, though, as the Lancers mixed and matched their way through the rest of the game, using six pitchers to hold the Matador offense to just four hits while striking out 11 batters.
“We gave too many pitches away,” said Moore.
Though the rest of the pitching staff was subpar on the day, Kay was excellent, giving up no runs on two hits and facing the minimum amount of batters in his four innings of work. He had his defense to thank for being so efficient, as both times he allowed a runner on base, that runner was quickly dispatched courtesy of some nifty defensive plays.
“It felt pretty good,” Kay said about his effectiveness on the mound. “It’s always good when you have a good defense playing behind you … The defense was playing really athletic behind me.
“The cutter’s been working really well for me recently. I had a slider early on in the year and me and coach Moore kind of workshopped the pitch into more of a cutter. So that’s kind of the pitch I’ve been throwing a lot recently.”
After the Matadors’ fourth consecutive loss, their record now sits at 19-27 (6-12 Big West).
CSUN next plays on Friday, May 10 at 2:30 p.m. at UC Davis in the first game of the three-game series, with sophomore Wesley Moore scheduled to start on the mound for the Matadors. Game two will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m. as senior Isaiah Nunez takes the mound, followed by the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. with freshman Blake Sodersten set to be the starter.