March 25, 2014

CSUN Rallies to Overcome Pepperdine 4-2

MALIBU, Calif. –

After falling behind early, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (11-14) used a pair of two-out rallies to earn a 4-2 win against the Pepperdine Waves (17-7) on Tuesday afternoon at Eddy D. Field Stadium. Brett Balkan drove in two runs and Ranny Lowe had an RBI double in his return to Malibu as the Matadors won their third consecutive game.

"The turning point was Brett Balkan sticking his face down in there and gritting a hit down the line and Ranny Lowe came up with a big one as well," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "It was a team effort and the offense really came around once we settled in a bit."

The Waves took an early lead when they scored a run with two outs in the bottom of the first. Brad Anderson hit a single up the middle that bounced over a diving Balkan and allowed Hutton Moyer to score from third.

Pepperdine added a run and took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Moyer hit an RBI triple to right field.

Although the Matadors were able to get runners on base after walks, they were unable to get a hit until the fourth inning. With two outs in the inning Dylan Alexander, Nick Murphy and William Colantono all walked to load the bases. Balkan followed with a two-run double down the left field line that tied the game at two runs apiece.

"I've come up in a lot of situations this year with guys on base and haven't done as much as I want to," said Balkan. "I'm just trying to keep it simple and trying to breathe so I don't make the situation bigger than it is."

Cal State Northridge took the lead in the bottom of the sixth thanks to another rally with two outs. Colantono was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a balk with Balkan at the plate.

Balkan reached on an infield single and Colantono was able to score on the play when the second baseman threw the ball away. Lowe then doubled to right center and Balkan was able to score all the way from first.

Pepperdine threatened to score runs in the bottom of the eighth but the Matadors were able to lock down defensively to leave the bases loaded. Shay Maltese entered the game for CSUN after a pair of singles loaded the bases with two outs and got a fly out to keep the lead intact.

Maltese then retired the side in order in the ninth to close out the game.

Anthony Cortez (1-0) pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless relief to earn his first win of the year while Maltese was credited with his fourth save. A.J. Puckett (0-2) was hit with the loss after allowing two runs in 2.1 innings of work. 

Balkan finished the day 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and a run scored while Nick Blaser also went 2-for-3.

The Matadors will return home to take on Long Beach State this weekend in the first series of the Big West Conference season. First pitch between CSUN and the Dirtbags on Friday, March 28, is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Matador Field.