CSUN splits with Point Loma and USC Trojans

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CSUN’s pitching staff was the story of the day last Tuesday afternoon as seven Matador hurlers combined to allow only two runs, helping Northridge earn a 6-2 victory over Division III Point Loma Nazarene.

The feat was even more impressive given the slippery conditions on the mound as rain fell steadily all day long, forcing the pitchers to battle the unenviable circumstances.

All seven Matador pitchers performed well in battling the elements. In fact, every Matador got into the action by striking out at least one Sea Lion batter, helping the team win its third straight game. The 16 combined strikeout performance was the highest nine-inning total all season long.

“Keeping the ball down and making quality pitches was the key in getting the Sea Lions out,” pitcher Craig Baker said. “These two aspects of pitching are essential in having success, and we did that today.”

The Matador offense was led by No. 7 hitter Chase McGuire, who drove in three runs on the day, including the eventual go ahead runs in the fourth inning. After trailing 2-1 in the inning, McGuire stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, and lined a clutch two-run single to left field, scoring Alberto Quintana and John Voita.

Head coach Steve Rousey said he was pleased with the offensive production, including the approach all the CSUN batters took to the plate.

“We were able to manufacture consistently today, by scoring in five out of the nine innings,” Rousey said. “The ability to put the ball in play and only strike out one time was essential for the team.”

Northridge added insurance runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to build the lead. Standout Michael Paulk rifled a run-scoring double in the fifth, and Luke Riordan capped the game with a two-out single in the seventh inning to help out the pitching staff.

The final three Matador pitchers closed out the game in fine fashion, with Matt Gaylord, Ivan Lopez and Peter Eberhardt holding Nazarene hitless over the final three innings.

Jimmy Brettl earned the victory and at the same time snapped his personal losing streak at 12 decisions, by allowing just two hits and no walks in two innings pitched. Brettl was the pitcher of record when McGuire put Northridge up for good in the fourth with what turned out to be the game-winning single.

CSUN tried to record its fourth straight victory when they traveled to USC on Saturday. However, the Northridge offense could not get on track the same way they did against Point Loma, as star Trojan pitcher Ian Kennedy blanked CSUN through the first six innings.

Kennedy allowed just four hits and no walks while striking out six batters in the Trojans 9-2 victory Saturday at Dedeaux Field.

Meanwhile, the CSUN pitching staff could not match their brilliant performance from Tuesday afternoon, as the Trojans scored early and often to blow the game wide open. After USC built a 2-0 lead early, the Trojans put the game away with a five-run fourth inning, with most of the runs coming off Craig Baker.

The inning started very poorly for Baker, as he allowed three hits and an intentional walk for a run. Then, Baker was his own worst enemy when he appeared to pick off a Trojan at first base, but Blake Sharpe who was at third base broke for home and stole the base. RBI singles by Cyle Hankerd and Hector Estrella added to the margin, as USC went up 7-0.

Despite Baker’s struggles, Brettl took the loss, giving up one run in the first 1 2/3 innings.

The only bright spots for the Matadors occurred when they scored two runs in the seventh inning after Kennedy left the game. A sacrifice fly from Raymond Ravago and a run scoring single by Adam Fleener accounted for the entire two-run output.

The loss dropped CSUN’s overall record to 17-26-1 and snapped their modest winning streak at three games.