March 14, 2014

Matadors Defeat West Virginia 4-2, Even Series

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

Behind three hits from Ryan Raslowsky and another quality start from Brycen Rutherford, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (8-12) defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers (9-6) 4-2 on Friday afternoon at Matador Field. The Matadors jumped ahead early with three runs in the first three innings and never looked back.

Facing reigning Big-12 Pitcher of the Year Harrison Musgrave, the Matadors struck first with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Ranny Lowe opened the frame for CSUN by reaching on a fielding error and advanced to second on a bunt single by Raslowsky. Chester Pak followed with a sacrifice bunt before an RBI ground out by Nick Blaser scored Lowe from third.

"The players did a rare thing today: they played more freed up, more relaxed today than they did yesterday," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "It's not easy after you take a loss and when you don't execute but I give the guys a lot of credit for taking their hands off the wheel, loosening their grip and playing the game like they should."

The Matadors put two more runs on the board in the bottom of the third to take an early 3-0 lead on the Mountaineers. Lowe started things off with a double to left center and Raslowsky singled on a bunt for the second time. Pak brought home Lowe with a sacrifice fly and Raslowsky later scored from first on an RBI double by Blaser.

Rutherford was dialed in for the Matadors all afternoon and did not allow a baserunner until a leadoff walk in the fourth. West Virginia was able to make an adjustment the second time through the order, however, and scored a run in the top of the fifth on a fielder's choice for Ray Guerrini that scored Max Nogay.

The Mountaineers inched closer in the top of the seventh and cut the CSUN lead to 3-2. After a one-out double for Nogay put two runners in scoring position, Michael Constantini drove in a run with a single to the left side of the infield.

The Matadors responded with an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Nico Garbella was hit by a pitch to start things off before moving to second on a wild pitch. With two outs in the inning, Pak singled to left center to drive in the run and put CSUN ahead 4-2.

Rutherford (2-2) struck out four in 6.1 innings to earn the win and his fifth quality start in five outings this year. Shay Maltese pitched 2.2 scoreless innings and struck out three to pick up his second save of the season. Musgrave (3-1) allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits in 6.2 innings for the loss.

"Getting ahead was big today," said Rutherford. "Dylan [Alexander] played really well behind the plate, Coach was calling a great game and I let my defense work."

Raslowsky finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate, Lowe scored twice, Pak and Blaser had two RBIs and Brett Balkan went 2-for-3 as the Matadors saw production at every spot in the lineup.

The series will be up for grabs in the finale between the Matadors and Mountaineers as the teams prepare for Saturday's contest. First pitch at Matador Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.