UC Riverside shut the CSUN baseball team (17-25, 4-11 Big West) down offensively in two games and narrowly won another one to complete a weekend sweep of the Matadors at Matador Field.
On the mound for the Matadors for the first game of the series on Friday was Ryan Juarez (4-4), who had a tough time with the Highlanders (24-13, 5-7) as he gave up nine hits and six earned runs.
‘They took advantage of pitches. They did a good job of capitalizing on the mistakes,’ Juarez said. ‘I made a lot of good pitches and made a few bad ones, and they hit the bad ones.’
The first blemish on Juarez’s day came in the top of the third inning when Highlanders shortstop Trevor Hairgrove came to the plate and jacked a solo bomb to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Juarez cruised to the fifth inning, but with two outs and runners on the corners, he gave up a costly homerun to Highlanders outfielder Michael Hur, The long-distance hit was worth three runs and gave UC Riverside a comfortable 4-0 lead.
The Matadors couldn’t get their regular offensive production from the lineup and struggled against Highlanders pitcher Paul Bargas, who ended up pitching a complete game and a shutout.
The only Matador that had his bat going on Friday was third baseman Justin Demarco, who went 2-of-3 on the day.
‘We didn’t make adjustments early enough off (Bargas), who’s obviously a really outstanding pitcher,’ DeMarco said.’ ‘He was keeping the ball down in the zone really well. We needed to recognize that earlier and go out and attack him more than we did.’
The game was all but sealed in the ninth inning after Highlanders outfielder Tony Nix hit a three-run homer to give his team a 9-0 lead, which wound up as the final score. In the second game, on Saturday, Justen Gorski (1-2) stepped on the mound for the Matadors and gave them six quality innings of work, giving up three earned runs on five hits.’
Gorski’s efforts on the mound were helped out by Matadors outfielder Richard Cates, who batted in fellow outfielder Jeff Pruitt in the first inning on a base hit to the pitcher. The hit couldn’t be fielded cleanly and allowed all runners to be safe.
Cates came through again for CSUN in the bottom of the third inning when he hit a solo bomb to give his team a 2-1 lead.’ The advantage was short-lived, however, as Hur blasted a two-run homer in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3.
In the seventh inning, Matadors relieving pitcher Ryan ‘China’ McCarney (1-4) entered the game and got two outs before giving up a single to Hairgrove. That was followed by a double from UCR outfielder Carl Uhl which scored two runs and gave the Highlanders a 5-3 lead.
The Matadors couldn’t come back and eventually fell to UC Riverside 5-4. Highlanders closing pitcher Joe Kelley earned his seventh save of the season.
In the final game, on Sunday, the Highlanders got to work quickly, scoring a run in the top of the first inning after third baseman Ryan Goetz hit a sacrifice ground ball to score Uhl.
On a day where both teams had success on the mound, UC Riverside was just a little better. On the mound for the Highlanders was Paul Applebee (6-2), who gave up no earned runs on four hits and struck out eight Matadors.
Pitching for the Matadors was Billy Ott (1-3), who had a complete game and struck out five batters while only giving up two earned runs on six hits.
Ultimately, the Matadors’ lack of offense did them in as they lost the game 2-0. It was more than a disappointing weekend for CSUN, which was swept by a UC Riverside team that came into Northridge having won only two Big West games ‘- half of CSUN’s total ‘- and left three games better and on top of the Matadors in the conference standings.
The Matadors’ next game is today at UNLV (22-21) at 6 p.m. Earlier this season, UNLV lost two visits to Matador Field.