Having won the past three rubber matches they’ve played in, the Matadors were looking for similar success against the visiting West Virginia Mountaineers.
However, in a game slightly reminiscent of a high-scoring loss just ten days before at the Loyola Marymount Lions, CSUN (8-13) was unable to pull away with the series win, falling to the Mountaineers (10-6) 14-11.
Sophomore right-handed starter Jordan Johnson (2-2), who had alternated good and bad games so far, had a rough outing as he allowed seven earned runs off of eight hits in three innings. His teammates were not able to provide relief, as three Matador relievers gave up at least one run in between the fourth and eighth innings.
Despite the pitching meltdown by CSUN, its offense would keep it within reach throughout the game. The Matadors collected 18 hits and three players had three RBIs each.
“We executed really well today,” said junior right fielder Chester Pak in an interview with Go Matadors. “We had been struggling offensively over the past few weeks but today was a good day and we just need to carry it forward to our next games.”
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Pak socked a 2-run home run over the left field fence to bring CSUN’s deficit to three. He also had an RBI single in the bottom of the second.
Mountaineer junior right-handed starter Sean Carley (3-0) had an equally rough day on the mound, allowing eight runs over five innings and allowing CSUN to take a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the second inning off of three separate singles.
West Virginia would battle back with two runs in the top of the third inning to tie the game at 5 runs apiece, then burst for four more in the top of the fourth inning off of Johnson and junior right-handed reliever Brandon Warner to take a 9-5 lead.
Northridge batters continued to chip away at the deficit over the next few innings, scoring two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull within 10-9. Junior left fielder Nick Blaser drove in two of his three RBIs with a double down the left field line. The Matadors would collect six more hits following Blaser’s double, but would not produce multiple runs other than Pak’s home run at the end of the game.
Despite the result, head coach Greg Moore was satisfied with CSUN’s effort at the plate, as the Matadors remain the worst-offensive team in the Big West.
“Good approach today by the offense. I thought it was our best,” Moore told Go Matadors. “You saw some guys really work their at-bats, get deep into counts and then execute.”
CSUN pitching, which has been above-average during the season, has been blown up at the most inopportune times this season. The Matadors have now lost their last two games in which the team scored 11 runs, falling to Loyola Marymount in extra innings 12-11 on March 5, and Saturday to the Mountaineers.
The Matadors will play the sixth game on an eight-game homestand tomorrow at 3 p.m. when they host the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (7-10) at Matador Field.