April 4, 2009
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - After battling the #16-ranked Cal Poly Mustangs (20-7, 2-3 BWC) for almost five hours Saturday evening, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (13-16, 2-3 BWC) were snakebitten once again, this time in a twelve-inning contest as they were defeated by a score of 7-6.
It was the second time in as many games that both teams matched each other stride-for-stride and needed extra frames to determine a winner.
Luckily for Northridge, they will have only a handful of hours before taking the field once again as the final game of the series will take place Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.
It took only two minutes for the Cal State Northridge Matadors to show the crowd at Baggett Stadium how they would respond from Friday night's 11-10 heart-breaking, extra-inning loss as John Parham crushed his third home run of the season over the fence in left-centerfield to drive in both him and shortstop TS Reed in the top of the first to take an early 2-0 lead.
Reed had initially reached base on a single hit to centerfield to lead off the game for the Matadors.
The Mustangs responded in their initial at-bats of the game as centerfielder Ryan Lee led off with a single and ended up scoring once Adam Melker, the very next batter, hit a double to the gap in left-centerfielder that rolled all the way to the wall before being put back into play.
Melker would eventually advance to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a fielder's choice to even the score at 2-2.
With runners on first and second base with only one out, the Mustangs looked to break through and take the outright lead; a sure-fire double up the heart of the infield was snatched by Reed as he made a highlight-worthy backhand flip to second baseman Justin DeMarco to rob what would have brought in the go-ahead run for Cal Poly had the ball reached the outfield.
Instead he recorded the second out of the inning, with Matador starter Billy Ott inducing an inning-ending ground ball to prevent any further damage from taking place.
CSUN took the lead again in the very next inning as they loaded the bases with a Jason Dabbs single and back-to-back walks drawn by Jeff Pruitt and Reed, before Parham was hit-by-a-pitch for the second consecutive game to force in a run.
Mustang starting pitcher Matt Leonard continue to struggle to find the strike zone throughout the inning as he walked Ryan Pineda to force in another run for the Matadors. Having walked only 14 batters throughout the season, the Matadors exhibited their discipline at the plate, and in the inning induced Leonard to throw three base-on-balls to regain their initial two-run advantage.
Cal Poly would chop that lead in half with one swing once they took to the batter's box only moments later as Justin Hensley hit a solo home run to left field to decrease the CSUN advantage to 4-3.
The score would remain the same until the bottom of the fourth when the Mustangs capitalized on a lead-off double by advancing the runner on back-to-back fly balls to right field and centerfield respectively to even the score at four.
Northridge regained the lead in the top of the fifth as Pineda raced home from second base and eluded the tag of Mustang catcher Ross Brayton by diving around the throw from right fielder Melker to touch home plate.
Pineda had led off the inning with a five-pitch walk, and advanced to second on a D'Anna fielders choice and raced for home plate once the ball left the bat of C.J. Belanger since there were two outs on the inning.
Had Pineda took a straight line to home plate from third, he would have easily recorded the third out, instead his deft base-running gave Northridge their third lead of the game.
CSUN's 5-4 lead would extend to a 6-4 advantage in the sixth as they loaded the bases on a single and back-to-back walks for pinch-hitter Richard Cates.
Cates' hard-hit line drive through the infield was smothered by Mustang second baseman Matt Jensen who was able to prevent the ball from reaching the outfield, but unable to throw out Cates at first who sprinted down the line to enable the run to score.
In a sight unseen by the crowd at Baggett Stadium so far during this series, both teams took turns placing zeros on the scoreboard for consecutive innings until the bottom of the eighth when the Mustangs were able to string together two singles with a walk sandwiched in-between to decrease the Northridge lead to one run.
That lead would evaporate on a two-out, wild pitch that enabled the tying run score from third base and even up the game at 6-6.
Northridge had an opportunity to break the tie in the ninth Pruitt stole second base after reaching on a single to put himself in scoring position with two outs. But the Mustangs would close out the frame with an inning-ending strikeout to preserve the tie.
A Cal Poly scoring opportunity was quickly eradicated in the bottom of the ninth when Dabbs made a diving save and caught Mustang catcher Ross Brayton in a run-down between second and third for the second out in the frame.
Without Dabbs making the stop, Brayton would have challenged Belanger's arm in left-field for a play at the plate. Instead, the Matadors recorded out number two, and brought an end to the inning when reliever Brian Slover induced a ground ball to first baseman Dominic D'Anna to go into extra innings for the second straight evening.
After the Matadors were retired in the top of the tenth, the Mustangs had a runner in scoring position with only one out as Mustang second baseman Matt Jensen split the Matador's left and centerfielder for his first hit of the game. However, his double would be negated as the inning progressed as Slover picked up his third strikeout and forced an inning-ending ground ball to Reed to squelch the Mustang scoring opportunity.
A lead-off double by Melker that landed just in front of a sprinting Pruitt started what would end up being the scoring opportunity for Cal Poly that would bring an end to the marathon-like contest.
After Jensen was intentionally walked to set up a force out on all bases, a bunt by D.J. Gentile would morph into a throwing error by Slover as he tried to get Melker out at third. Instead of recording the first out of the inning, his throw missed the glove of Dabbs and sailed into foul territory as Melker touched home plate to score the winning run.
Already snakebitten in the first two games, the Matadors will look to end the series on a positive note as RHP Ryan "China" McCarney (0-1, 4.66) will face Cal Poly RHP Mason Radeke (1-1, 9.53) in the series finale beginning at 1:00 p.m. Fans can listen or watch the game online at www.GoMatadors.com or follow all the action on GameTracker.
Matadors 220 011 000 000 - 6 10 2
Cal Poly 210 100 020 001 - 7 14 0
Win - Massingham (4-0) Loss - Slover (1-3)
T - 4:57 A - 1381