Although this past weekend brought beautiful weather to the South land, the scene was nothing short of atrocious at the beach, Long Beach State that is. The 49ers handed the Matador baseball team its eighth, ninth and tenth straight loss of the season bringing their record to 12-20-1, and 0-9 in conference play.
This lengthy losing skid began over three weeks ago with four straight losses to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The following week made the feat of winning even more challenging as CSUN was matched up against the second ranked team in the nation and 2004 College World Series champs, Cal State Fullerton. The Titans made quick work of the Matadors, winning all three games in the series, including a forgettable 24-0 shellacking.
This past weekend, the Matadors had to face another nationally ranked team in the form of the No. 14 ranked 49ers of Long Beach State.
In the opener Friday night at Blair Field, it was the 49ers that grabbed the early lead with a triple by Danny Mocny who was then knocked in by the eventual series MVP Troy Tulowitzki.
Although the Matadors were able to tie the game on a throwing error at the plate by 49er Tito Cruz to score Drew Aguailar, the Beach would eventually go on top for good late in the third inning and would take the first game 7-2.
Long Beach State pitcher Cesar Ramos got the win allowing just four hits while striking out seven Matadors. Kyle Jean picked up the loss giving up four runs on seven hits and bringing the Matador’s consecutive losing streak to eight.
On Saturday the Matadors would have their best opportunity to take a game from the 49ers and put an end to their tiring losing streak. The “Dirtbags” again jumped out to an early 3-0 lead leaving the Matadors in yet another hole to dig themselves out of.
Though down, the Matadors regained their composure and reeled of three runs of their own in the seventh inning, tying the game at three. Marco Estrada of Long Beach State pitched shutout baseball through six innings of play prior to that.
With both Alberto Quintana and Michael Paulk on base with hits of their own, CSUN’s Luke Riordan sent a shot down the right field line driving in both runners and chipping away at the lead.
The Matadors would then score the tying run on an error by the 49ers Ryan Bradley.
With the exception of the third inning, CSUN pitcher Peter Eberhardt threw particularly well, notching six scoreless innings of play. But in the eighth inning with the score tied, the wheels started to come off as Long Beach State put two men on base resulting in a Matador pitching change.
Head coach Steve Rousey elected to put sophomore right-hander Craig Baker on the mound. However, the 49ers continued their winning ways by driving in two runners and reclaiming the lead. Unfortunately the Matadors couldn’t get anything started against Long Beach closer Neil Jamison in the final inning, losing the second of the three game series 5-3.
In Sunday’s finale, the Matadors placed Jimmy Brettl on the mound, still looking for his first victory of the season. Regrettably, he would have to wait until next time as the Matadors got shut out 6-0.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with the Matadors down 3-0, Brettl gave up two consecutive hits resulting in the end of his afternoon. Reliever Matt Gaylord took over for the Matadors and hit the first batter he faced loading the bases with only one out.
The 49ers again threatened to blow the game wide open. Gaylord managed to get a second out recorded on a fielded foul ball. He would then proceed to hit the next batter, allowing a run to score and making it 4-0.
Shortly after, Tulowitzki continued his hot streak by crushing a shot into left field, scoring two more runs. The onslaught finally came to an end when Sean Boatright flied out to end the inning.
The Matadors were understandably frustrated and it showed as the 49ers got their retribution by hitting the first three Matador batters, Erik Hagstrom, Paul Wilson and Drew Aguailar, loading up the bases.
Many fans tossed around the idea that there were “dug out battles” brewing, referring to the unusually high count of pitches that hit batters.
“No, I really don’t think that the hit-by-pitches were intentional,” said outfielder John Voita.
The ensuing pitch got away from the Long Beach catcher, and Hagstrom sprinted for home to try and get CSUN on the board, but Long Beach recovered in time to make a controversial play at the plate where the umpire called Hagstrom out.
Only seconds after the questionable call, Rousey charged out of the dugout to confront the umpire. After a few minutes of yelling and arguing Rousey was ejected from the game.
“It was a tough call at that stage in the game,” Rousey said.
Following the delay, Brett Andrade came on for the 49ers with two runners on and two outs, prompting a fly-out to end the inning and essentially the game.
Brettl took the loss for CSUN, falling to 0-5 this season. Long Beach States Tulowitzki led all players, going 4-for-5, with three RBI’s. Hagstrom and Luke Riordan each had two hits for the Matadors.
The Matadors have now lost 10 straight games.
“It’s hard to keep the emotion out of it,” Rousey said “We are a good team that is suffering through tough times.”
Fortunately the Matadors get a break from league play as they will host UC San Diego April 19 at 3 p.m.
“It has been difficult to get a good rhythm going when were only playing games on the weekend,” Rousey said. “It’ll be nice to play a bit more. We don’t need any rest.”
“Just remember that you’re all fine players,” Rousey said to his players after the game, regarding the losing streak.