March 28, 2009
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors (10-14, 1-1 BWC) evened their series with the #20-ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (14-6, 1-1 BWC) with a huge eighth inning, as they erased an early 4-1 deficit to win 9-4 Saturday afternoon.
CSUN found themselves behind most of the afternoon against their Big West Conference opponent, but the Matadors chipped away at the Gauchos lead until they exploded for six runs in their half of the eighth giving starter Ryan Juarez (4-2) the victory.
Coming into the eighth, the Matadors had momentum on their side thanks to a highlight-quality catch by center fielder C.J. Belanger. Gauchos second baseman Matt Valaika drove a long fly ball to deep center but Belanger tracked down the hit before crashing into the center field wall with the ball firmly in his grasp.
Northridge trailed by the score of 4-3, was able to score six times on five hits, and exited the eighth with a 9-4 lead.
The inning started with second baseman Justin DeMarco ripping a double down the left field line. Left-fielder C.J. Belanger brought home DeMarco with a single to center. After a bunt hit by shortstop TS Reed and catcher John Parham was plunked by Gauchos reliever David Meals, right-fielder Ryan Pineda singled to left bringing home both runners. Two batters later, designated hitter Todd Eskelin stepped up by belting a three-run home run giving the Matadors a 9-4 advantage.
Eskelin's home run was his second of the season and his second of his collegiate career.
Closer Brian Slover entered in the ninth inning and put away UC Santa Barbara for good with a shutout ninth. Slover retired the side by inducing left-fielder Gunnar Terhune to ground into an game ending 4-6-3 double play.
Juarez pitched eight outstanding innings for CSUN including shutting out UC Santa Barbara in his final six innings of work. His only taxing inning was the second when the Gauchos scored all four of their runs on two hits. After the second inning though, Juarez would retire the next seven batters he faced and he would only allow two more hits giving Northridge an opportunity to chip away at the 4-1 deficit.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Matadors cut into the Gaucho lead by manufacturing their second run. Pineda led off the inning with a single to left. First baseman Dominic D'Anna followed next with a productive out grounding to the pitcher that advanced Pineda to second. Eskelin then sacrificed Pineda to third, giving third baseman Jason Dabbs the opportunity to bring in the runner. Dabbs would take advantage of the opportunity when he flared a single to center bringing Northridge to within two runs.
Two innings later, the Matadors brought in another run with a bases loaded walk by Reed that scored Dabbs from third.
Pineda had yet another productive game for Northridge as he had four singles and three RBI's. He brought in his team's first run of the afternoon in the home half of the first. After Parham lined a one out double down the left-field line, Pineda brought him home with a base hit that gave the Matadors an early 1-0 lead.
The Matadors will return to the diamond Sunday afternoon in hopes of winning their first Big West Conference series this season. Northridge will send RHP Ryan McCarney (0-1, 5.01) to the mound to face UC Santa Barbara RHP Mike Ford (3-1, 5.68). First pitch is scheduled for 1:00pm at Matador Field.
Fans can follow all of the action live on their computer at www.GoMatadors.com on GameTracker, with the voice of Matador Baseball Dave Caldwell providing the play-by-play.
UC Santa Barbara 040 000 000 - 4 6 1
Cal St. Northridge 100 101 06X - 9 12 3
Win- Juarez (4-2) Loss- Meals (1-1)
T- 2:45 A-193