NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Three errors proved too costly for Cal State Northridge as the Matadors (30-20, 14-6 Big West) dropped the second game of its series with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (27-20, 12-8 Big West) 6-2 on Saturday afternoon at Matador Field. Northridge had the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the eighth but were unable to push runs across, losing its second straight game for the first time since March 29-30 at Long Beach State.
"This has been a resilient group and yesterday was a tough loss. This is the first time in a long time that we haven't immediately bounced back from adversity," said CSUN head coach Matt Curtis. "We've just got to get back to playing good, fundamentally-sound baseball, playing good defense. Pitching and defense has really been our trademark and we've got to do a better job at the plate."
The Gauchos nearly scored in the top of the first after getting a two-out double, but an on-field delay worked out in Northridge's favor. After cruising into second, Woody Woodward noticed that the dirt in the infield was soft and the umpires requested that the grounds crew fix the situation before continuing. After the break in the action, Calvin Copping got Tyler Kuresa to hit a deep fly to left that Cal Vogelsang caught on a leap near the warning track.
"We were in a pull defense and he ended up jumping on a fastball pretty well and going the other way with it," said Vogelsang. "It was hit well but I felt like I got a good jump on it. That's my job out there to catch anything."
The first run of the game came across for UCSB in the top of the third after a pair of CSUN errors allowed runners aboard. With runners on first and second and no outs after a fielding error at third a sacrifice bunt was thrown away by Copping, allowing Jackson Morrow to score.
Two more runs scored in the top of the fifth with the help of another error, but the Matadors were able to keep the inning from spiraling out of control. Joey Epperson led off with a solo home run to left field and Brandon Trinkwon scored after an infield single was made worse by a throwing error on the play that saw the ball wind up in right field.
With two outs, Cameron Newell singled to right field with a runner at second but Chester Pak threw out Robby Nesovic trying to score on the play.
UC Santa Barbara took a 6-0 lead with three runs in the top of the seventh on a two-run double by Nesovic and an RBI single by Newell.
Northridge scored its two runs in the bottom of the seventh after Pak and Anthony Lombardo walked to start things off. Nicolas Osuna then hit an RBI double to the gap in left center field that scored Pak easily from second base.
With one out, Kyle Attl reached on an infield single to third that scored Lombardo and cut the deficit to four runs at 6-2.
The Matadors had the opportunity for runs in the bottom of the eighth but could not complete its rally. The team loaded the bases with no outs and had the tying run at the plate before a strikeout, line drive and ground out ended the inning.
Copping (5-4) allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits in 6.0 innings of work to take the loss. He did, however, strike out five hitters on the day. Nesovic (3-2) allowed two runs on six hits in 6.0 innings to pick up the win for UCSB. Brandon Warner retired all eight batters he faced in 2.2 innings of relief to finish the game on a positive note for Northridge.
"A series is about momentum," added Curtis. "Even though maybe we came up short with the rally I feel like we gained a little bit of momentum at the tail end of the game."
Vogelsang led CSUN offensively with a 3-for-4 day that included a double while Attl and Osuna were responsible for the Matadors' RBIs.
The Matadors and Gauchos will conclude their three-game series with a Mother's Day Matinee at Matador Field on Sunday, May 12. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.