While riding the arms of their inconsistent staff, the Matadors seemed poised to start a run after gaining momentum with two straight victories in which they gave up a combined three runs.
That failed to occur as the Cal State Northridge baseball team dropped the first two games in its road weekend series against Big West Conference rival Cal Poly at Baggett Stadium.
In five conference games this season, CSUN has failed to capture that elusive first conference victory and are now 0-5 in the Big West.
The two losses dropped the Matadors’ overall record to 17-18, the first time they have managed a losing record this season. They have now lost 10 of 13 games dating back to March 25 against Loyola Marymount.
“Just like Coach (Curtis) said, each game is worth one. There’s no added pressure, we are all just tired of losing. I don’t think we’re playing terrible baseball and if we could just win one game, we can get started on a run. We need to get going because we are tired of losing,” CSUN’s Ryan Juarez said.
The Northridge pitching staff is back to giving up a lot of runs, as it allowed eight in Saturday’s matchup and seven in Friday’s game.
The staff now sits on an abysmal 5.36 earned run average and is not displaying the offense necessary to overcome a bad day at the mound.
In his first start after being named the Big West Co-Pitcher of the Week, CSUN’s Josh Goossen-Brown got the nod in hopes of bringing the Matadors that first conference victory after Friday’s 7-3 series opening loss.
Goossen-Brown (4-1) was not a glimpse of his usually dominating style as he was rocked from the get-go with four runs in the first inning en route to an 8-2 loss, his first of the season.
A home run to lead off by Cal Poly’s outfielder Bobby Crocker made it 1-0. The next batter was retired, but Goossen-Brown gave up two straight singles, then two straight doubles to cap the four-run rally for the Mustangs (14-16, 5-3 Big West).
Northridge did manage to scratch out a run in the top of the fourth after an Adam Barry single, but Cal Poly answered back in the bottom half with three runs to put the game out of reach.
Barry went 3-for-4 to lead all Matadors. Goossen-Brown gave up seven runs on 12 hits.
Six Mustangs had multi-hit games, including infielder Denver Chavez, who led Cal Poly with two runs batted in in four at-bats.
Friday’s defeat was all in the same as CSUN’s Juarez was making his second start of the season and was jumped on after almost three innings of shutout baseball.
Juarez and Mustang starter Mason Radeke were locked in a pitching duel before Cal Poly broke a scoreless tie in the third inning and would go on to score three in each of the next two innings.
Northridge tried a small comeback when it finally scored three runs in the eighth inning, but it fell short as the game ended, 7-3.
Juarez pitched six innings and gave up seven runs, four earned, on 10 hits.
Cal Poly’s Elliot Stewart led the team with two runs, two hits and two RBIs in four at-bats.
“It was really disappointing because we know we have to pitch well to stay in the game and scratch out runs. Juarez did a good job for the first three innings and gave us a chance to look at their (Cal Poly) pitcher,” coach Matt Curtis said. “We didn’t give us a chance there and that’s what happened.”
Curtis remains hopeful the team will improve despite the scarce offense and shaky mound.
“At some point you have to get some hits and runs. You can’t expect the other pitcher to get us some runs. We need to put it together. I’m optimistic the guys will continue to work and get more comfortable at the plate,” he said.
Series Notes: After six innings in Sunday’s series finale, Cal Poly was leading the Matadors 5-2. The final score was not available at press time.