The Matadors’ struggled over the weekend, losing two out of three games in Malibu at the Yellow Book USA Classic, a round-robin tournament featuring non-conference opponents Oregon State, Winthrop, and Pepperdine.
Northridge began the tournament on an inauspicious note Friday morning, failing to produce offensively in their 4-1 loss to the No. 22 ranked Oregon State Beavers. Northridge right-hander Joe Rocchio delivered a quality outing, allowing only three runs in seven innings, but his performance would not be enough to get the victory.
CSUN’s bats were unable to get on track all day long, as Beaver pitcher Dallas Buck trumped Rocchio by striking out eight batters in just over eight innings to shut down Northridge.
The only bright spot in the Matador line-up was from ever-reliable outfielder Michael Paulk, who delivered a single in the fifth inning extending his school record-hitting streak to 28 games. That single would be one of only four hits the team would have in their one run output Friday.
But the team would suffer an even tougher defeat Saturday morning as a disastrous fourth inning allowed Winthrop to score 12 runs in a 13-1 blowout victory.
The Eagles sent 17 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, pounding out seven hits and taking advantage of four Matador errors in the twelve run onslaught. Events of the day were so bad that the game was called after seven innings due to the large Winthrop lead.
“One bad inning was our downfall Saturday,”said Head Coach Steve Rousey after the game. “The team made some errors and we could not stop the bleeding.”
The start of the game was promising for the team, as they jumped on Winthrop in the first inning. Michael Paulk, who had just previously extended his hitting streak to 29 games, came around to score when the Eagles were unable to turn a double play, giving Northridge an early 1-0 lead.
The game was tied at one when Northridge unraveled and allowed the game to get out of hand. Pitcher Jimmy Brettl was ineffective and was removed in the inning after allowing two home runs, including a three-run shot by Kyle Roberson to cap an utterly frustrating day.
Besides the shaky pitching from Brettl, the Matador defense helped prolong the inning, as three two-out errors kept the Eagles inning going and their next 10 batters all reached base.
The loss Saturday was the worst defeat Northridge suffered this season and dropped their record to 6-8-1.
However, CSUN showed tremendous resiliency in coming back the next day and defeating host school Pepperdine 8-1, salvaging the final game of the three-day tournament. The Matador pitching staff, bewildered from the previous day, rebounded against the Waves, as three pitchers combined to allow just one run.
“I am very proud of the team for bouncing back from that type of defeat, which shows the true test of what the team is made of,” Rousey said. “It is a great sign because we played a good team in Pepperdine and beat them on their home field.”
Starting pitcher Kyle Jean went four solid innings giving up the sole run, then relievers Matt Gaylord and Peter Eberhardt finished off the game to earn a much needed win for the team.
The Matador offense, which had only scored three runs over the weekend, finally broke through in the seventh inning to give Northridge the lead for good.
After loading the bases, two consecutive hits by Erik Hagstrom and Paul Wilson provided the team a five run margin they would not relinquish.
All nine Northridge hitters collected at least one hit in the game, including Michael Paulk, who extended his tremendous hitting streak to 30 games.
CSUN continues their eight game road trip this week when they face Loyola Marymount and New Mexico State. Northridge looks to get back over .500 once again, as the team has teetered around the mark all season long. However, with only 13 seniors on the 40-man roster, the team seeks to gain experience from the early part of the season and learn from their mistakes.