NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Twice trailing by a run in their final at-bats, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (18-21, 5-6 Big West) were able to keep the game going, eventually scoring the winning run in the 12th inning to knock off the Long Beach State Dirtbags (20-20, 10-4 Big West) 6-5 on Saturday afternoon at Matador Field. The Matadors scored a run in the ninth and two in the 12th to even the series with the Dirtbags heading into Sunday's finale.
After Long Beach State plated a run in the top of the first on a two-out single by Brennan Metzger, Northridge starter Jerry Keel was efficient in keeping the Dirtbags off the scoreboard.
The Matadors leveled the score in the bottom of the second inning after Nathan Ring reached base on an error with one out. Kyle Attl then singled to left center and the pair moved up to second and third on a passed ball.
Tommy Simis followed with a ground out to the right side that scored Ring. Adam Barry gave the Matadors the lead in the home half of the third as he hit a full-count pitch over the wall in right center field for his first home run in a Matador uniform.
Northridge had the chance to add another run in the third after Miles Williams doubled down the left field line, but he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single to right by Ring.
Williams got his revenge, however, as he fielded a ball in the top of the fourth and threw out the tying run at the plate.
Keel worked through seven innings for the Matadors, getting himself out of a jam in the seventh to preserve the lead. With one out, Keel issued a walk to load the bases but got the next hitter to line out and another to ground out to end the inning.
The Matadors increased the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out RBI single for Marty Bowen. After Barry and Steven Keller reached on walks, Bowen hit a hard ground ball to the shortstop.
Matt Duffy was unable to make a play on the tough ball and had it deflect off his glove down the left field line, allowing Barry to score easily from second.
Not to be put away easily, the Dirtbags made a late charge and tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth. A pair of runs scored late in the inning as a ground out pushed across one and an infield single got home another.
Long Beach State regained the lead in the top of the ninth as Metzger hit another RBI single, this time with two outs.
The Matadors would not go down without a fight and Cal Vogelsang ledoff the ninth with a single to left center. After Matthew Moreno sacrificed Vogelsang to second, Williams nearly ended the game with one swing of the bat.
Williams laced a 1-2 pitch off the top of the left field wall to score Vogelsang and send the game to extra innings.
The Dirtbags took the lead yet again, this time in the top of the 12th. Jeff McNeil hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Metzger with the bases loaded.
Northridge put together another rally after Keller singled through the left side to open the 12th. Keller was then replaced on the bases by Michael Livingston, who represented the tying run.
Bowen laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Livingston to second and Ring singled to center field to put a runner at first and third with one out. Relief pitcher Josh Frye entered the game for Eddie Magallon and threw a wild pitch that allowed Livingston to score and Ring to go to second.
With the game tied and Attl batting, Ring was off with the pitch and stole third base. The throw down by catcher Royce Murai went down the third base line and Ring scored the winning run easily.
The Matadors have now won four games in their final at-bat, including three in extra innings, and all have come at Matador Field.
Louis Cohen (5-2) pitched the final 5.0 innings for Northridge and struck out two to pick up the win. Magallon (0-3) was charged with both runs in the 12th and took the loss for Long Beach State.
Williams led the Matadors by going 3-for-6 at the plate with a double and an RBI and Bowen went 2-for-4 with an RBI as well. Ring finished the day 2-for-6 with two runs scored, including the game winner.
The series will conclude on Sunday, Apr. 29 at 1 p.m. All Little Leaguers in uniform will receive free admission to the game.