The Cal State Northridge baseball team completed a comeback victory in the bottom of the ninth against the Washington Huskies in the final game of the series and avoided a four game sweep on Feb. 20 at Matador Field.
The Huskies were 9-3 against the Matadors coming into the series.
Junior Craig Baker opened the series for the Matadors on Friday, taking on the Huskies’ Tim Lincecum.
Baker quickly got into trouble in the first inning when he walked designated hitter Jake Rife and hit third baseman Andy Lentz. Catcher Matt Lane hit a three-run home run over the right field wall, giving the Huskies a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the third inning, Lentz led off with a single to right. Lentz advanced to third on a hit-and-run situation when right fielder Matt Hague followed with another single to right. Left fielder Zach Clem walked to load the bases for Lane who followed with a single to bring in two more Husky runs. Clem reached home on a grounder by first baseman Curt Rindal to score the Huskies’ last run of the inning and give them a 6-0 lead.
Sophomore right fielder Brett Blumenthal hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to put the Matadors on the board.
The Huskies scored their final run of the game in the top of the seventh when Rife scored on a single by Hague.
The Matadors scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Junior center fielder Johnny Coit walked and Sakurai singled to right. Bardeguez followed with an infield single and a throwing error scored Coit and advanced Sakurai to third. Blumenthal laid down a sacrifice bunt to score the final run of the game for the Matadors.
Lincecum reached speeds in the mid to high 90s, finishing the game with 15 strikeouts and giving up only one run.
“That was one of the most dynamic performances I’ve seen,” head coach Steve Rousey said.
Baker recorded eight strikeouts of his own to give him 30 on the season.
In game two, Junior Edwin Quirarte started on the mound for the Matadors against Kyle Parker.
Sakurai scored the first run of the game for the Matadors off a grounder by Brett Blumenthal.
The Huskies’ first run of the game came in the second inning when Quirarte walked Rife with the bases loaded. The Matadors would get out of the inning only giving up one run.
The Matadors scored in their half of the second inning thanks to the pitching struggles of Parker. Freshman designated hitter Richard Cates and junior third baseman Todd Shelton both reached base on walks. Catcher Steve Lemmon loaded the bases with an infield single. Parker walked Coit, bringing in a run. Parker walked two more batters to bring in two more runs, giving the Matadors a 4-1 lead. Parker was pulled from the game.
Junior first baseman Jorge Andrade Jr. hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third, adding another run for the Matadors and giving them a 5-1 lead.
Things would turn around drastically later in the game in favor of the Huskies.
In the top of the fifth, Lane hit a two-run shot over the left field wall to cut the Matador lead to two.
The Huskies took the lead in the sixth inning. Third baseman Matt Stevens hit a solo home run to start the inning off. Later in the inning, with Rife on first, pinch hitter Kyle Conley reached first on a throwing error and advanced Rife to second. Rife advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a single by Hague.
The Matadors gave up more costly errors in the inning. The ball ended up in center field on an attempted pick off throw to second to advance the runners and Conley scored on a wild pitch. Lane brought in the Huskies’ final run of the inning when he hit a ground rule double to bring in Hague. The Huskies left the inning with a 7-5 lead.
Washington scored two more runs in the seventh on back-to-back home runs by Stevens and second baseman Bradley Boyer.
The Matadors scored one run in the seventh when Andrade reached home from second on a throwing error.
The Huskies put the game out of reach in the top of the eighth, scoring seven runs. The Matadors committed three errors in the inning.
The game ended with 10 errors total with six committed by the Matadors.
This was the first game Blumenthal would not record a hit but still managed to bring in two RBIs. Stevens would finish the game hitting for the cycle.
Game three would prove to be a pitchers’ duel with sophomore Chuckie Fick starting on the mound for the Matadors and Tyler Cheney for the Huskies.
The Matadors made some defensive changes on Sunday as Rousey shuffled the lineup.
The first run of the game came in the top of the fourth when Clem hit a home run to put the Huskies on the board.
Washington scored again in the top of the fifth, when center fielder Brett Kaluza singled to score Rindal from second base.
The Matadors came up short of a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Blumenthal scored on a double by senior Paul Wilson but the Matadors left two runners on-base to end the game at 2-1.
Fick finished the game with seven strikeouts in six innings of work, allowing only two hits. Junior Bobby Paschal continued the solid pitching for the Matadors allowing no hits and striking out two in three innings of relief. The Matadors’ pitching did not receive the run support needed to win the third game of the series.
Blumenthal regained his hitting success Sunday going 3-4. “Take it one at bat at a time,” said Blumenthal.
In the final game of the series, freshman Jimmy Jolicoeur got his first start of the season against Matt Kasser.
CSUN pulled away in the second inning. With runners on first and second and the game tied at one, Sakurai hit a single through the right side to score Coit from second. Kasarjian followed with a single to score freshman shortstop Scott Lyons and Sakurai scored on an error.
Washington scored two runs in the third and two more in the fourth to give them a 5-4 lead.
The Matadors, however, went into the ninth up by one run. The Huskies scored two runs in the top of the ninth to retake the lead.
CSUN managed to pull off an impressive comeback in their half of the ninth.
Blumenthal walked to start the inning off and pinch hitter Paul Wilson reached base after being hit by a pitch. The runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Andrade. Nick Haughian intentionally walked Shelton to load the bases for junior pinch-hitter Chase McGuire. Haughian walked the tying run home. Lyons followed with a hit to second to force in the winning run home, giving the Matadors the victory.
CSUN will next take on UC Riverside beginning Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.
The Highlanders return 22 letterwinners, including eight starters from last year’s team that went 28-27. Top players for UCR are outfielder Aaron Grant and pitcher Haley Winter. In the first 10 games, Grant is batting .342 with 13 hits. Winter currently has a 5.23 ERA. Also producing for the Highlanders are Jeff Dunbar and James Simmons. Dunbar is batting .560 in seven games played and leads the team with 14 hits, while Simmons has a 1.69 ERA with a 3-0 record.
The weekend series will be the final series to the Matadors’ month-long homestand. During the homestand, CSUN has a 6-4 record. After they play the Highlanders, the Matadors will hit the road playing at Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
Victor Flores can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.