IRVINE, Calif. -
Despite a complete-game effort on the mound by John Salas, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (19-17, 5-4 Big West) fell 2-0 against the No. 23 UC Irvine Anteaters (23-9, 5-4 Big West) on Sunday afternoon at Anteater Ballpark. Salas limited the Anteaters to just four hits in the game but the Matadors stranded nine runners on base on the day.
"We knew we weren't going to have a ton of scoring opportunities but we worked ourselves into a few," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "We just didn't get the key execution at-bat that we needed."
Salas started things off right for the Matadors defensively, setting down the Anteaters in order in the first inning. In addition to a strikeout, he fielded two soft ground balls to help his own cause.
Northrdige's best chance to score early came in the top of the third as Kyle Attl and Nathan Ring singled and Joshua Goossen-Brown walked to load the bases with one out. UC Irvine starting pitcher Andrew Morales, however, was able to record a strikeout and a ground ball to escape without conceding a run.
UC Irvine's first run of the game scored in the bottom of the fourth after Connor Spencer singled to open the inning. With one out, Ronnie Shaeffer doubled to right center field to score Spencer from first.
The lead for UCI was extended to 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth after Grant Palmer led off with a double down the right field line. Jonathan Herkins used a sacrifice bunt to move Palmer to third and Chris Rabago delivered a sacrifice fly to score the run.
Northridge had the opportunity to tie the game in the top of the eighth but were unable to cash in after a leadoff single by Attl. Ring walked and Goossen-Brown put down a sacrifice bunt before relief pitcher Mitch Merten recorded the final two outs to end the inning.
Salas (2-5) went the distance for the Matadors but took the loss despite allowing just two runs on four hits in 8.0 innings. Morales (8-0) worked around six hits in 7.0 innings for the win and Merten notched a save for UC Irvine.
"Johnny Salas did a great job again. Another real quality start, unfortunate he doesn't get rewarded with a 'W' and he has to take a loss on that day," added Curtis.
Both Attl and Chester Pak had two hits in the game for CSUN to lead the team offensively and Attl added a stolen base to his credit.
The Matadors will remain on the road for their next Big West Conference series and will travel to the University of Hawai'i next weekend. First pitch between Northridge and the Rainbows is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. HST (9:35 p.m. PST) on Friday, April 19.