The CSUN men’s baseball team put forth a solid effort over the weekend against Pepperdine, but a few costly home runs were the difference as the Matadors went 1-2 in a three-game season-opening series.
The first game on Friday was nothing short of spectacular as every run scored in the game was via the long ball. The home run derby began in the fourth inning when sophomore third baseman Ryan Pineda blasted a two- run shot into center field for the Matadors. However, Pepperdine was able to answer back that same inning when senior outfielder Nate Simon hit a two-run blast to tie the game at two.
Both teams settled down after that, until the ninth inning. Then, Matador senior outfielder Richard Cates hit what he thought to be the go-ahead home run.’ CSUN (1-2) went into the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead, but Simon jacked another bomb to tie the game at three and Waves senior shortstop Denny Duron hit a walk-off home run to win it, 4-3.’ In his pitching debut for the Matadors, junior college transfer Ryan McCarney pitched seven innings and gave up six hits and two earned runs in a solid performance.
The next day, the Waves came to Matador Field to face sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Juarez, who ended up having a spectacular day.’ Juarez pitched six innings and gave up only two earned runs while posting an impressive five strikeouts.
‘It’s great seeing a guy like McCreary pitch the day before to base my game off what he did and see what works,’ said Juarez about his ability to shut down Pepperdine’s offense on Saturday.
CSUN was able to score some runs because of wild pitches thrown by Waves sophomore left-hander Scott Alexander.’ Matador’s sophomore center fielder Jeff Pruitt reached first base after getting hit by a pitch, and then advanced to second on another one.’ At that point, Cates drove Pruitt home with a base hit to give the Matadors a 3-0 lead. CSUN wound up winning 6-2.
Pineda led all CSUN batters, going 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs.’ Coming in to close out the game for the Matadors was junior right-handed pitcher Billy Ott, who struck out two batters and picked up his first save of the season.
The final game of the series on Sunday was a battle to remember.’ On the mound for the Matadors was freshman left-handed pitcher Bryan Harper, who played six innings and struck out two batters while giving up a run.
The game went back and forth as the Waves took a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning only to see the Matadors tie it up after sophomore first baseman Dominic D’Anna batted a base hit to score Pineda, who had doubled earlier in the inning.
Pepperdine was able to score another run in the seventh inning, which setup a memorable turn of events for the Matadors in the bottom of the ninth.’ With one out, Pruitt came up to bat and drew a walk, giving him a free pass to second base.’ Then, senior catcher John Parham connected on a clutch hit that drove in Pruitt to tie the game at two.
‘Originally, I let Pruitt get a jump to get to second base and I just took it from there,’ Parham said.
The game entered the top of tenth and the Matadors weren’t able to get anything going offensively, giving the Waves the chance to win it in the bottom inning.’ On the mound for CSUN in relief duty was sophomore right-handed pitcher Brian Slover, who struck out the first two batters before giving up a walk-off home run to Simon that gave Pepperdine the 3-2 win.
The teams played at a high level and were matched evenly, but in the end, the Matadors were a few plays short of getting the win.
‘We played really well.’ We need to improve on scoring and moving runners, but we played solid defense and hit very well,’ Cates said.
CSUN’s next game is today at 2 p.m. as they welcome Loyola Marymount to Matador Diamond.