NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
After trailing by as many as nine runs, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (18-33, 6-13 Big West) rallied but could not overcome the No. 6 Cal Poly Mustangs (43-10, 17-5 Big West) in a 16-10 loss on Friday afternoon at Matador Field. William Colantono drove in a career-high four runs and Chester Pak cracked three hits as the Matadors rallied for seven runs over the final two innings.
"This team continues to play more impressively than they did before in terms of putting up runs," said CSUN Head Coach Greg Moore. "How they work in the dugout at the game makes this group never stop playing. They understand this ballpark and it's fun to be in there with them as they continue to grind."
Cal Poly got off to a hot start in the game when leadoff hitter Mark Mathias hit a solo home run to left field. The Mustangs picked up two more runs in the inning on a home run by Zack Zehner to take a 3-0 lead after the first half-inning.
Nick Torres hit an RBI double in the third and Jimmy Allen added a home run in the fourth to put the Mustangs ahead by five runs. A three-run inning in the fifth, featuring a run-scoring double for Brian Mundell and a two-run shot for Allen gave Cal Poly a large lead at 8-0.
The Matadors began to chip away, however, and forced the Mustangs to fight until the last out. After Alexis Mercado drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the fifth, Pak hit an RBI triple to right center before scoring on a ground out by Colantono.
Cal Poly responded with an RBI double for Allen in the seventh before plating three runs in the top of the eighth to take a 12-3 lead. Kevin Morgan drove in a run with a ground-rule double, Torres hit an RBI single and a run scored on a double play ball from Mundell.
Not to be shut down, the Matadors rallied for five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning against relief pitcher Nick Suniga. CSUN loaded the bases with no outs before Mercado's double down the left field line scored two.
Pak then hit a deep fly ball to right field that was dropped, allowing a run to score on the sacrifice fly and error. Colantono then stepped up to the plate and delivered a two-run single to left center to draw the Matadors within four runs at 12-8.
The Mustangs were able to survive the scare and extended their lead back to eight runs when four came across in the top of the ninth. An error with two outs in the inning allowed Cal Poly to string together a two-run double for Morgan and an RBI single for Torres before the final run scored on a passed ball.
CSUN began to rally once more in the bottom of the ninth and scored runs on a single by Nicolas Osuna and a bases-loaded walk by Colantono. With the bases loaded and two outs, the Mustangs were able to induce a ground ball to end the game.
Brycen Rutherford (4-6) allowed eight runs in 4.1 innings to take the loss while Cal Poly starter Matt Imhof (9-4) conceded three runs in 7.0 innings for the win. In addition to Colantono and Pak, Mercado also drove in multiple runs and all but one batter that appeared in the game had a hit for the Matadors.
"At times, the middle of the order will become the table setters. That's what happened today," added Moore. "We just had the good fortune and good at-bats to drive those runs in."
CSUN and Cal Poly will continue their three-game series on Saturday, May 17. First pitch at Matador Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.