With two lackluster losses, the Matadors continue to sink in the standings and now rest in the dark of the conference cellar.
The Cal State Northridge baseball team dropped the first two matchups in the three-game series against UC Davis at Dobbins Stadium and now dropped to a season-low six games under .500 at 18-24.
What stands out the most is the abysmal, and conference-worst, 1-10 Big West record and leaves the Matadors searching for answers to a season that started as promising.
“We’re trying to keep heads up and salvage the year to hopefully finish over .500,” outfielder Ridge Carpenter said. “It’s tough, but we’re trying to keep a positive outlook. We’re trying to keep the program in the right direction and keep things rolling in the right direction.”
Both Friday’s and Saturday’s games had Northridge chasing the Aggies, as UC Davis scored from the get-go in both games.
In Saturday’s game, the Matadors gave up two runs in the bottom of the first inning, as David Popkins doubled off CSUN starter Paul Tremlin (2-4) to score Seth Batty and Scott Heylman. Batty and Heylman lead off the half of the inning with back-to-back singles.
Things did not get any easier for Northridge, as reliever Vincent Roberts gave up back-to-back to left field to Eric Johnson and catcher Scott Kalush in the bottom of the fifth inning. The home runs put the game at 5-0 for the Aggies.
Roberts gave up one more home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to Justin Andrade to tally the final score of the game at 6-0.
CSUN had an opportunity to put runs on the board in the second inning as catcher Steven Keller doubled to lead off. The next three batters were retired to end the inning.
Infielder Adam Barry, who had extended his conference-high hitting streak to 15 games the day before, went hitless to break the streak.
Tremlin pitched 3.2 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits.
Friday’s series opener started in similar fashion as UC Davis (11-25, 5-6 Big West) opened the game with scores in the bottom of the first.
The Aggies scored four runs with two outs on a grand slam by Kalush and never looked back.
Matador Carpenter belted his third home run of the season in the top of the fifth inning to make the game 6-2 in favor of the Aggies. CSUN scored one more run on a single by Marty Bowen to score Drew Muren.
This was the closest Northridge would get, as UC Davis scored three more runs to end the game at 9-3 to take the opener.
CSUN starter Ryan Juarez (3-6) gave up seven runs and six hits, and was replaced after four innings of work by reliever Chris DeBoo, who gave up two runs on five hits.
“I’m hitting a rough patch right now. Some things are not working out, but I just go and keep getting better every time,” Juarez said.
Muren recorded four hits in nine at-bats for the series.
UC Davis came into the series with only nine victories in 34 games played, but Matador players said taking the Aggies lightly was not in the game plan at any time.
“We just play the game and not matter who you’re playing. You can’t overlook anybody. We didn’t take them lightly at all,” Carpenter said.
Despite the losses, players are still taking it slow and not thinking ahead of themselves.
“We’re playing and we’re trying to come back next week and take a series at home. We just got to take it one game at a time,” Juarez said.
Series Notes: Sunday’s series finale score was not available at press time. CSUN’s Carpenter was given Saturday’s game off, his first of the season… Saturday’s shutout marks the fourth time the Matadors have been kept scoreless this season… CSUN managed just three runs on 18 hits for the two games, while UC Davis tallied 23 hits for the first two games.