CSUN Clinches Series with 9-4 Win at Hawai'i
Alexis Mercado drove in two runs, Joshua Goossen-Brown went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and the Cal State Northridge Matadors (21-17, 7-4 Big West) topped the University of Hawai'i Rainbows (8-26, 3-8 BWC) 9-4 on Saturday night at Les Murakami Stadium. Seven different Matadors scored a run as CSUN's win moved the team into a tie for second place in the Big West Conference standings.
The Matadors collected 14 hits in the game, including four doubles, as all but two CSUN players recorded at least one hit.
"At Irvine [last week] I hit the ball hard, just got robbed a couple of times," said Goossen-Brown. "I have the same approach at the plate, balls are just finding holes now."
Northridge starting pitcher Calvin Copping was able to rely on his defense as well and the infielders behind him were called upon in the bottom of the first. With runners on first and second with one out, second baseman Michael Livingston made a catch on a line drive below his knees and took the ball to second base himself to complete the inning-ending double play.
With the early momentum in their favor, the Matadors took the lead at 1-0 in the top of the second. Following a one-out double to right center by Chester Pak, Mercado lined a double over the head of the left fielder to score the run.
However, Hawai'i responded and scored twice in the bottom of the second to take the lead. With one out, Kalei Hanawahine hit a double down the right field line that scored two runs for the Rainbows. Copping settled down and got a pair of ground outs to end the inning and the offense picked him up in the next half inning.
Nicolas Osuna led off the third with a single to the shortstop and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Livingston. Kyle Attl then drove a double down the left field line to score Osuna and tie the game. Goossen-Brown followed two batters later with an infield single that scored Attl from third and Mercado brought around Nathan Ring with a single to right field. All told, the Matadors scored four runs on six hits in the third to take a 5-2 lead.
The Rainbows chipped away at the deficit in the bottom of the fifth and scored a run on a sacrifice fly to right by Pi'ikea Kitamura.
The Matadors would score three more times to break the game open with an 8-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning. With runners on first and third, Livingston dropped down a safety squeeze bunt that was fielded by the pitcher but no throw was made to any base and Kyle Ferramola scored without issue.
Later in the inning, Goossen-Brown hit a single to the shortstop behind the bag at second and two runs came in to score.
Following a Hawai'i run in the bottom of the sixth on an Austin Wobrock RBI single, the Matadors added an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Pak started things off with a single to center and stole second before moving up to third on a ground out. Anthony Lombardo then grounded into a fielder's choice as the throw home was not in time to get Pak.
Calvin Copping (4-3) allowed four runs on four hits in 5.2 innings but received the win for Northridge. Reliever Harley Holt, a Honolulu native, pitched two scoreless innings in front of his hometown crowd and helped the Matadors keep the Rainbows from drawing closer on the scoreboard.
"That's the most nervous I've been going in," said Holt. "First inning was a little rough but I calmed myself down and got the strikes in there when I needed them."
DJ Milam entered the game in a save situtation in the eighth and got his second career save after 1.1 scoreless innings.
Pak finished the day 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base, Lombardo drove in two runs and Osuna scored twice. Goossen-Brown led the way with three RBIs for CSUN while Mercado added two.
With the win, the Matadors closed out a road series victory for the first time this season.
"We're happy with where we're at but, you know, every game is worth one," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "We've got another opportunity tomorrow and we're gonna have to come out to play well."
Cal State Northridge and Hawai'i will conclude their three-game set on Sunday, April 21 with a 1 p.m. HST game at Les Murakami Stadium.