The Matadors had no luck against No. 1 UC Irvine over the weekend as they dropped all three games of their series at Anteater Ballpark by three or more runs.
The Matadors (18-29, 4-14 Big West) got off to a rocky start on Friday as starting pitcher Ryan Juarez (4-5) left the game in the third inning after only giving up one earned run on one hit.
Once Juarez left the game, it was all down hill for a Matadors squad that has struggled to get much of anything in Big West Conference play.
Entering the game in Juarez’s place was Davin Tate, who had been shaky in his previous outings.’ Tate gave up three earned runs during the bottom of the fourth inning as the CSUN relief pitching let the game slip through its hands.
The only run the Matadors managed to come up with was courtesy of second baseman Tommy Simis, who lined a single followed by another single from left fielder C.J.
Belanger to allow him to move to third.’ Then right fielder Ryan Pineda lined a hit and scored Simis.
Even with that, the game was still looking bleak for the Matadors as they trailed 5-1 in the sixth inning.’ Then the Anteaters (34-11, 14-1) padded their lead with two more runs in the bottom of the inning and packed home their 7-1 win.
The second game of the series, on Saturday, was again a nightmare for the CSUN pitching staff as freshman starter Justen Gorski (1-3) gave up four earned runs on three hits in just over an inning of work.
Paul Tremlin (6-1) came in the game to try and right the ship for the Matadors, but wasn’t effective against the strong Anteater batting lineup. UC Irvine put up nine runs by the fourth inning and went on cruise control thereafter.
One of the few bright spots for the Matadors came when Simis drove in two runs with a stand-up double in the fifth inning.
Later in that same inning, shortstop Jason Dabbs lined a single to left field to score Simis, giving the Matadors a three-run inning.’ The effort was too little too late, however, as the Anteaters rolled the Matadors up 12-7.
Highlighting the game for UC Irvine was catcher Francis Larsen, who scored an impressive four runs on three hits and was a homerun shy of hitting for the cycle. In the final game of the series, on Sunday, Matadors starting pitcher Billy Ott (1-4) was in the game as CSUN looked to take at least one from the dominant UC Irvine squad.
Ott had been solid for the Matadors, but, against the top team in the nation, there was little he could do.
In the bottom of the first inning, Ott gave up a three-run blast to Anteaters first baseman Jeff Cusick that scored shortstop Ben Orloff and helped the Anteaters to a quick 3-0 first-inning lead.
The Matadors answered in the top of the second when Pineda scored a run on a stand-up double by John Parham.
Parham came up with another RBI as he scored Richard Cates in the ninth inning, but, ultimately, the first-inning homer and another solo jack by Larsen in the eighth nailed the final game down for the Anteaters, 5-2, as they completed the CSUN sweep.
The Matadors will take the field at home today and Wednesday as they host the USC Trojans.’ Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m. starts.