SAN DIEGO –
Right-handed pitcher Brycen Rutherford carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Cal State Northridge scored all of its runs in the fourth as the Matadors (26-18) held on for a 6-4 win at the University of San Diego (26-19) on Tuesday night at Fowler Park. Northridge produced all of its offense early and withstood a late rally by the Toreros to complete its season sweep of USD.
"San Diego has been one of the best programs on the West Coast for the last few years, consistently in a regional," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "Sweeping a series against them is really big. Maybe that helps us down the road if we are in a position for a possible at large selection but the bottom line is that we have a long way to go before we get to that point. We have four really difficult conference weekends coming up, starting at Davis."
Rutherford rolled for the Matadors throughout the evening and set down the first 11 batters he faced. In the bottom of the fourth, AJ Robinson drew a walk and became the first USD batter to reach base. By that time, however, CSUN had built up a 6-0 advantage.
"I was just pounding the zone," said Rutherford. "Coach Peraza called a great game, Mercado was working behind the plate and I just let my defense do the talking for me."
In the top of the fourth inning the Matadors scored six runs on four hits against Dylan Covey and Trevor Bayless. Covey had not allowed a base runner to that point in the game.
Joshua Goossen-Brown then produced a two-run double down the left field line to put the Matadors ahead 2-0 with no outs. Chester Pak struck out swinging with runners on second and third but reached first on the wild pitch to load the bases once more.
Alexis Mercado followed with an RBI single and William Colantono added a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 4-0. With two outs in the inning, Nicolas Osuna reached on an infield RBI single and a throwing error on the play allowed a sixth Northridge run to score.
"Colantono had a great at-bat, I'm really happy for him," added Curtis. "In a homecoming game for him to have a calm, mature approach to hit that fly ball to left to get the run in, I was really proud of that."
Rutherford used the benefit of a six-run cushion to his advantage and continued to get San Diego batters out. His no-hit bid was nearly broken up in the sixth inning but a spectacular defensive play by Attl kept a lazy fly ball from falling. With one out, Attl tracked down a soft pop up to shallow left field and went full extension on a dive to snag the ball out of the air.
"I was definitely hoping he could get to it. That was an amazing play," said Rutherford. "Hopefully you'll get to see it on SportsCenter."
The Toreros finally broke through for a hit against Rutherford in the bottom of the seventh with one out as Robinson lined a clean single to right field. Rutherford got a pair of groundouts to end the inning and put a cap on a career performance.
San Diego had its offensive success come against the CSUN bullpen, scoring a run in the eighth and three in the ninth to bring the score line closer. With two outs in the eighth, Dillon Haupt hit a double and scored on an RBI single by Logan Davis.
In the bottom of the ninth, Louie Lechich hit a three-run home run to right field to close the margin to 6-4 before Goossen-Brown came in to record the final out of the game for CSUN.
Rutherford (1-1) went a career-high 7.0 innings on the mound and allowed just one hit and one walk in the game. Covey (3-4) allowed six runs on three hits in 3.0 innings of work to take the loss for USD. Goossen-Brown earned his eighth save to move into a tie with Mike Frick for second place on the all-time career saves list at Northridge with 13.
"Bryce did a good job attacking the zone and making them put the ball in play," said Curtis. "Bryce is a guy we always felt like there's that type of outing in there."
Goossen-Brown also led the Matadors offensively with a 1-for-3 day that included a two-run double while Mercado went 1-for-4 with an RBI, run scored and stolen base. Kris Bryant, the nation's leading home run hitter, went 0-for-4 in the game and 0-for-9 against the Matadors this season.
The Matadors will return to Big West Conference action this weekend with a three-game series on the road at UC Davis. First pitch on Friday, May 3 from Dobbins Stadium in Davis, Calif., is set for 2:30 p.m.