April 1, 2011
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
In the first game of the 2011 Big West Conference season, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (14-12, 0-1) did all they could but were unable to catch the No. 19 UC Irvine Anteaters (16-6, 1-0) at Anteater Ballpark on Friday night.
The Matadors were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead midway through the contest but a six-run fifth inning for the Anteaters proved too much to overcome as Northridge found itself playing catch-up once again. Starting pitcher Justen Gorski (3-3) pitched 4.1 innings, striking out one hitter but allowing five earned runs in the defeat.
Northridge found itself in a favorable position entering the middle innings of the game with the score tied at zero following timely pitching and solid defense early on. After allowing runners in each of the first four innings, Gorski was able to get out of jams without allowing a run, stranding a total of seven UC Irvine runners.
The Matadors were the first to strike as they put up two runs with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Shortstop Kyle Attl and second baseman TS Reed reached base with one out via a hit and a walk, respectively. A groundout by senior Ridge Carpenter advanced the runners to second and third with two out and Tommy Simis walked to load the bases.
With two out in the inning, catcher Steven Keller singled to center field, scoring Attl and Reed, but was tagged for the third out at second base trying to advance on a throw that was cut off by the shortstop. Going to the bottom of the fifth, Northridge led 2-0.
UC Irvine wasted no time in responding by posting six runs in their half of the fifth, five of which scored with one out in the inning, to take their first lead at 6-2. Adam Barry doubled to left field for Northridge in the sixth and Andrew Muren singled him home to cut the deficit to three runs.
In the bottom of the seventh, relief pitcher Ryan Juarez allowed a run as a ball in the dirt got away from Keller with the bases loaded, and the Anteaters increased the lead to 7-3.
Facing a four-run hole in the top of the eighth, Muren sparked the Matador offense once more by belting his third homerun of the season, a three-run shot over the right-center field wall to close the gap to 7-6 but two Irvine runs in the bottom of the eighth gave UCI a three-run cushion headed to the ninth.
The comeback was almost completed for Northridge in the ninth inning. Simis and Keller walked with one out and designated hitter Marty Bowen reached on an infield single to load the bases. Barry was caught looking at strike three however, and Justin De Marco grounded out to the pitcher to end the game.
Game two of the three-game conference-opening series will be played on Saturday, April 2, at 2 p.m. at Anteater Ballpark with the finale scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. Listen to all of the action live by clicking the link in the schedule on GoMatadors.com.