Northridge Falls in Series Opener, 16-2 to Dirtbags

April 18, 2008

Box Score

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge (15-18, 4-6) couldn't harness their momentum towards a victory Friday, getting a 1-0 lead but squandering it to the tune of a 16-2 loss. Long Beach State (21-14, 3-4) pounded out 20 hits to earn their third Big West victory.

Northridge got on the board first, logging a run in the bottom of the first after TS Reed worked his way around on an infield single, sacrifice bunt, stolen base, and passed ball.

Northridge hung on to the lead into the third before the Long Beach bats came alive. In the third, two 49ers were aboard for Danny Espinosa, who smacked his third homer of the year to give the Beach a 3-1 lead.

The score held until the fifth when Espinosa struck again, this time knocking a two-run double to expand the 49er lead to four. Five more runs came in the sixth for the visitors, the centerpiece of the inning being a three-run home run off the bat of third baseman Brandon Godfrey.

Meanwhile, Beach starter Andrew Liebel was continuing an impressive senior campaign. The right-hander went into the sixth before allowing the next Matador run, surrendering a single up the middle to Ryan Pineda that scored John Parham. An error on left fielder Steve Tinoco extended the inning, but Liebel induced an inning-ending grounder to C.J. Belanger.

The line score did not tell a pretty picture for the Northridge pitchers. Until Eric Billings came on for the seventh to stop the bleeding with a 1-2-3 inning, both Northridge hurlers had a rough go. Starter Davin Tate allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings and relief man Ryan Juarez fared no better, going 1.2 innings and surrendering five runs and as many hits.

Eric Billings acted as the stopper, tossing 1.1 hitless innings before ceding to Taylor Austin.

Austin was charged with holding an impressive Northridge streak. The Matador staff had not allowed a run after the sixth inning for the previous eight contests, a run that spanned games against UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly, and UC Santa Barbara.

The stretch ended on Friday, however, when Godfrey slugged a bases-loaded ground-rule double over the right-field wall that pushed the 49ers ahead 12-2. The 49ers would go on to score two more in the frame to make the score 14-2.

The Matadors had something to cheer about in the bottom half, however, when Chris Hannick skied a fly ball into right field and a miscommunication among the outfielders resulted in the ball falling and rolling into the wall. Hustling on the play, Hannick wound up at third with his first career triple.

Long Beach picked up where it left off in the ninth, collecting a pair of scores.

Northridge went down quietly in the bottom half of the frame, locking in the final score at 16-2.

The Matadors will look to avenge the loss Saturday in the continuation of their three-game set with the Beach. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.