March 7, 2008
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - After squandering an early four-run lead, the Matadors (6-3, 0-0) sent the Red Storm (6-3,0-0) packing on an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Edwin Quirarte earned the win despite surrendering a go-ahead run in the eighth, and C.J. Belanger's double set the table for the game-ending dramatics.
St. John's starter Scott Barnes helped the matadors to a big second inning. The Matadors helped their own cause with two hits, but four walks and a hit-by-pitch from Barnes gave the Matadors four runs in the frame. Barnes was then lifted in favor of Miguel Valcarel, who shut down the Matadors four the next four innings. The right-handed reliever faced just 18 batters in five shutout innings.
In that time, St. John's scored two in the fourth and one more in the fifth and another in the sixth to knot the score at five. Neither side scored in the seventh, and in the eighth, St. John's surged into the lead on the back of Daniel Benedetti's RBI double. Quirarte, despite giving up the go-ahead run, finished the inning with no more harm done.
In the eighth, Northridge tied the game with an RBI double off the bat of Matt Warr that scored Jason Dabbs, aboard with a single of his own. Northridge went down swinging, but Quirarte kept the Storm at bay with a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth.
In the bottom of the frame, C.J. Belanger smacked a leadoff double in the gap in right-centerfield, giving Northridge a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Ryan Pineda attempted a sac bunt but didn't get a good pitch and ultimately went down looking. Richard Cates was intentionally walked behind Belanger, setting up the double play for St. John's. Instead, a ground ball that looked routine jumped over the Red Storm shortstop's shoulder, giving Parham a game-winning RBI single.
Jimmy Jolicoeur had his best start of 2008, holding the Johnnies scoreless through three innings before surrendering two in the fourth. Jolicoeur faced just 11 batters in the opening three frames. He was victimized by an unearned run in the fifth, and after getting the first two batters in the sixth, an RBI single ended Jolicoeur's outing. Bryce Schoening pitched well in relief before Quirarte came on for the final two innings.
C.J. Belanger contributed in the field as well, diving into the left-centerfield gap to rob Gil Zayas in the seventh, ending that inning with no harm done.
The Matadors return to action Saturday for a double date with St. John's. The sides will play two games, starting at 11 a.m. The second game will begin about 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.