The CSUN baseball team could not hold a three-run first inning lead as they fell to the UC Riverside Highlanders 13-5 in a non-conference game at the Riverside Sports Complex, Tuesday afternoon.
In the top of the first, the Matadors sent eight men to the plate to take an early 3-0 lead on Riverside. The Matadors loaded the bases with one out on senior Alberto Quintana’s single and two batters being hit by pitches.
Junior Michael Paulk grounded to third, but Andrew Garcia couldn’t make the play allowing a run to score. With the bases still loaded, Chase McGuire walked to send another run home and Jeff Tezak finished off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The lead would not last long as the Highlanders tied the game in the bottom of the first. Matt Cunningham singled to drive in two runs and cut the lead to 3-2. Three batters later Jeff Dunbar drove in the third run to tie the score.
Riverside’s offense then exploded in the bottom of the third inning with two outs. Junior Andrew Martinez was called out on strikes after being hit by a pitch, but the home plate umpire ruled that he had leaned into what would have been a strike.
UCR lost the argument, but the incident provided a spark as Cunningham followed with a home run to give the Highlanders the lead. A double by Dunbar ended the day of CSUN starting pitcher Matt Gaylord.
The relief was not effective though as a hit batter and two walks brought in one run and a single drove in two more runs giving the Highlanders a 7-3 lead.
CSUN would fight back by adding a run in the fourth. McGuire walked to lead off the inning and eventually scored, as Marc Rzepczynski threw a wild pitch. The Matadors would get no closer though, as the Highlanders added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Riverside led off the bottom of the fourth with four consecutive doubles (they would have eight doubles in the game) to give them a 10-4 lead. Riverside also scored a run in the seventh on an RBI double by Grant and added two more in the eighth on a double by Kyle Barratt.
CSUN scored their last run in the sixth when Adam Fleener had an RBI single and Rzepczynski was pulled from the game.
Gaylord was handed his first loss of the season for the Matadors. He allowed three runs on five hits with one strikeout in 2 2/3 innings. Rzepczynski shook off a rough first innning to pitch five innings for the win. He allowed three earned runs on four hits and five walks while striking out six.
The Matadors will play the final three road games of the season this weekend when they travel to play UC Davis in a non-conference series. The first game is Friday, May 20 at 2:30 p.m. at the Dobbins Baseball Complex.