What started out as an opportunity for the defending Big West champions, Cal State Northridge, to climb up the conference standings, ended in another series loss as the Matadors dropped two of three at UC Santa Barbara to fall five games out of first place.
With Northridge’s 4-2 defeat against the Gauchos on Saturday, the sixth-place Matadors lost all five of their three-game series and have not won back-to-back games since Mar. 19-20 (wins over Ohio State and Ohio).
The Matadors, who have nine games left on the season, split a doubleheader with the Gauchos on Friday before losing the rubber-game Sunday.
To open the series, CSUN blew two one-run leads in the seventh and eighth inning as UC Santa Barbara rallied back for a 5-4 victory.
With the score tied at 2-2 in the seventh, Madeline Sale, who finished 3-for-4 with a career-high three runs batted in, hit a double to drive in Tracy Allen from second base to give CSUN the potential game-winning run. Unfortunately for the Matadors, the Gauchos responded by scoring a run to send the game into extra innings.
To start the eighth inning, Karla Chaparro led off with a triple and later scored on an RBI single by Kristen Mihm. In the bottom of the eighth, UCSB hit a home run and scored the walk-off run on a RBI double to left center.
In relief work, Hannah Fraijo took the loss to give her a 9-10 record on the season. Starting pitcher Mia Pagano pitched two-plus innings and gave up two earned runs. Krista Cobb pitched a complete game for UCSB.
Northridge bounced back in game two with in 9-2 rout of the Gauchos.
Trailing UCSB 1-0 in the top of the third inning, CSUN responded in a big way by scoring six runs. Matador Samantha Sloniker, who was struggling at the plate with a .179 batting average, had a two-run double in the inning.
CSUN added to its lead in the fifth inning after Mihm hit a three-run bomb, her third home run of the season.
Fraijo picked up her 10th victory as she threw for seven innings and only gave up eight hits with two earned runs.
The Gauchos used three pitchers with none throwing over three innings.
In the series finale, CSUN once again fell behind early as the Gauchos scored a run on back-to-back two-out doubles. UCSB added to its lead in the bottom of the third after opening the inning with a triple and walk, which led to two runs.
Northridge was able to score two runs in the fourth.
Fraijo pitched two-plus innings and was relieved by Mia Pagano, who only gave up one run. The CSUN bats only managed two hits on the day.
Cobb pitched her second complete game of the series and didn’t give up an earned run.
The Matadors return home for a three-game series against Big West opponent Cal Poly, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday and concluding on Sunday.