NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
After recording 27 hits through the first five games of the season, the Cal State Northridge offense erupted for 31 in two games as the Matadors (4-3) swept the Seattle University Redhawks (4-3) in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Matador Field. CSUN took the first game by a convincing 14-4 margin and won the second contest 4-3.
"We're obviously excited about offense. What we're most excited about is that our guys continue to get better at the plate and they're starting to see the ball better and better," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "The improvement is what we're going to key on.
The Matadors collected five extra-base hits on the day, including their first home run of the year off the bat of Alexis Mercado in the first game. Seven CSUN batters had multiple hits in the morning clash while three accomplished the feat in the second game.
Game 1 Recap:
Cal State Northridge wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the first tilt, posting three runs in the bottom of the first. Entering the day, the Matadors had yet to score three runs in the same game in the young season.
After the Redhawks cut the deficit to 3-1 on a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the top of the third inning, the Matadors responded with three more runs to create a 6-1 cushion. Livingston doubled home Balkan and Mercado with one out and later was credited with stealing home on a potential squeeze play.
An RBI single in the fourth for Seattle made it a closer game at 6-2, but once again the Matadors struck for three runs and took a seven-run lead in the bottom of the fifth. Balkan's RBI single scored Chester Pak from third, Nicolas Osuna hit a sacrifice fly to right center and William Colantono singled in Balkan with two outs.
The Matadors continued to find holes in the Seattle defensive alignment and scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead 13-2. Pak doubled home Ranny Lowe with one out before Mercado added to his career day with a towering home run over the left field fence. Colantono added another two-out RBI single before the inning was through.
"I've been sticking with my approach and not trying to change anything just because things haven't been going my way," said Mercado. "As a team we need to stay within ourselves and find our approach."
The Redhawks pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the ninth against redshirt freshman Gabriel Corniel, who made his first career appearance for the Matadors. Corniel induced a double play with the bases loaded to end the game.
Mercado finished Game 1 by going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored while Pak and Osuna tallied three hits each. Colantono, Livingston, Balkan and Lowe each recorded two hits for CSUN.
Starting pitcher Brycen Rutherford (1-0) earned the win for the Matadors after pitching 7.0 innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out four. Andrew Olson (0-2) was saddled with the loss for the Redhawks.
Game 2 Recap:
The hot hitting continued for the Matadors in the second game as CSUN added 11 hits in the afternoon affair. For the second game in a row the Matadors scored in the bottom of the first inning, this time with two runs to go ahead 2-0.
After Ryan Raslowsky was hit by a pitch, Pak delivered a one-out triple down the left field line and Mercado brought him in with a single through the left side of the infield. The Matadors added a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Lowe that scored Colantono, making the score 3-0.
Seattle charged back, however, and scored a run in the top of the third and two more in the fifth to tie the game at three runs apiece. Brock Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly in the third and a run-scoring double in the fifth before scoring a run of his own on a ground out by Brian Olson.
Following a stalemate in the middle innings, the Matadors broke through for the eventual game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by Pak with the bases loaded that scored Devin Harrison easily.
Calvin Copping (1-1), who was in the game before the winning run scored for CSUN, pitched the final 2.1 innings of scoreless baseball to earn his first win of the year. Reliever Garrett Anderson (0-1) took the loss for Seattle.
Lowe went for three hits in the second game while Raslowsky and Mercado each had two. Pak led the way with a pair of RBIs to help the Matadors get back above .500 on the season. Freshman catcher Dylan Alexander made his first career start and picked up his first collegiate hit in the process.
The Matadors and Redhawks will conclude their four-game series on Sunday, Feb. 23. First pitch at Matador Field is scheduled for 12 p.m.