The CSUN baseball team seems to be getting back into the swing of things after a 5-3 win over the San Diego State Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference at Matador Field Tuesday afternoon.
The Aztecs (17-25, 11-7 MWC) came off a three-day, six-game doubleheader at home against Air Force in which SDSU slaughtered the Falcons, picking up four wins and two forfeits.
Junior Matt Gaylord took the mound for the first time this season for the Matadors (14-23-1, 0-12 Big West) and had an impressive performance. Gaylord went four scoreless innings, giving up two hits and one walk while striking out two.
Gaylord gave up a single to Jake McLintock in the third, before receiving help from the Matador defense in the form of a double play. After that, Grant Desme doubled to right field, accounting for the only two hits off Gaylord.
“The beginning of the game was key for us,” head coach Steve Rousey said. “Gaylord had a great performance by putting up four zeroes, which really increased our enthusiasm.”
CSUN put runs on the board first with junior outfielder Paul Wilson getting things started with a bunt single after freshman designated hitter Rodney McMahon struck out.
After junior third baseman Erik Hagstrom struck out, sophomore catcher Adam Fleener slammed a two-out, two-run homer over the left field fence. Fleeners’ blast was the first of his career and put CSUN up 2-0.
San Diego State finally got their first run in the top of the fifth inning on a solo homer from shortstop James Guerrero, the Aztecs’ leading hitter. Guerrero finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored.
The Matadors fired right back on an opposite-field solo shot over the left field fence off the bat of red-hot junior first baseman Michael Paulk. Paulk’s home run was his fourth hit of the game, and increased the Matadors’ lead to 3-1. Paulk’s batting average jumped 16 points, from .308 to .324 for the season.
After Gaylord pitched four innings, junior Kyle Jean went two innings, giving up the solo shot to Guerrero in addition to another hit, struck out two and walked one.
Freshman Jeremy Berg relieved Jean in the top of the seventh to try holding the lead for CSUN. However, Berg was not at the top of his game, giving up two hits while walking one and striking out two.
Senior Peter Eberhardt relieved Berg with runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the eighth. Eberhardt could not hold on to the lead and allowed the inherited runners, Desme and Guerrero, to score on an RBI single by Lance Zawadzki.
Eberhardt’s blown save was the 18th blown save this season for CSUN. The CSUN offense turned this game into a nail-biter when they came up in the bottom of the eighth.
After Hagstrom led off the inning with a groundout, Fleener began the rally with a walk. Sophomore second baseman Jeff Tezak was then hit by a pitch for the second time in the game and for the 10th time this season.
James Scott, who relieved Aztecs starter Dan Bruckart in the seventh, then faced a struggling Luke Riordan. After Riordan walked to load the bases, Scott was then relieved by Jared Suwyn to help stop the bleeding.
Senior shortstop Alberto Quintana came up and slapped a two-run single up the middle to score both Fleener and Tezak giving the Matadors a 5-3 lead.
After the two-run eighth, sophomore Joe Rocchio came on in the top of the ninth and recorded the first collegiate save of his career with three consecutive fly outs. Eberhardt was credited with the win, improving his record to 4-3.
Rousey was ecstatic and impressed with the way the CSUN offense has been piling up a number of hits recently. The Matadors have piled up 13 runs and 28 hits the last two games.
“I’m very proud of our offense,” Rousey said. “We’ve been collecting many hits. It’s necessary in order for us to manufacture runs.”
CSUN closed out its season-long homestand with a win and were scheduled to head out on the road for three games at UC Irvine before facing non-conference opponent UC Riverside.