NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Despite rallying for two runs over the final three innings the Cal State Northridge Matadors (7-12) could not complete the comback against the West Virginia Mountaineers (9-5), falling 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Matador Field. The Matadors got the potential tying run to third base in the bottom of the ninth before the Mountaineers escaped with the win.
"We could've executed a little bit better defensively," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "We just needed to play catch and we didn't get that done. They [WVU] capitlized on it, to their credit."
The afternoon was shaping up to be yet another pitcher's duel, as neither team recorded a hit until the fourth inning. CSUN starter Jerry Keel worked around one-out baserunners in the second and third, while WVU starter Zach Bargeron was perfect through three innings.
In the top of the fourth, the Mountaineers struck for three runs and did not relinquish the lead. Cameron O'Brien hit an RBI single with two runners on base before Jacob Rice scored on a throwing error while stealing third base. O'Brien later scored on an RBI single by Max Nogay.
The Matadors responded by scoring a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth, cutting the WVU lead to 3-1. Ryan Raslowsky opened the frame for CSUN with a double to left center and was immediately followed by an RBI double down the left field line by Nick Blaser.
"We're starting to hit the ball and get the confidence that we need to put up the runs to help our pitchers," said Raslowsky.
Cal State Northridge scored another run in the bottom of the fifth to momentarily shorten the gap at 3-2. William Colantono singled up the middle before moving to second base on a Ranny Lowe sacrifice bunt. After Raslowsky singled to advance Colantono to third, the sophomore scored on a wild pitch.
The Mountaineers extended their lead back to three runs in the top of the seventh, scoring twice to go ahead 5-2. Both Billy Fleming and Rice hit singles through the infield to bring runs home for West Virginia.
The Matadors would not be put away easily, however, and scored a run in the seventh and ninth innings to put the final score at 5-4. In the seventh, back-to-back doubles for Colantono and Lowe resulted in a run while Blaser was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth.
Raslowsky finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate while Blaser went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. Colantono went 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk and two runs scored.
Keel (0-4) took the loss for the Matadors and struck out two batters in 6.1 innings. Louis Cohen added four strikeouts in 2.0 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Reliever Ryan Tezak (1-0) earned the win for the Mountaineers while Pascal Paul was credited with his second save of the season.
The Matadors and Mountaineers will continue their series on Friday, March 14, with a 3 p.m. game at Matador Field.