April 24, 2010

Ball Does Not Bounce the Matadors' Way in 4-1 Loss at Pacific

April 24, 2010

Box Score

STOCKTON, Calif. - Cal State Northridge (21-16, 3-5 BWC) received five solid innings of work from their starter Paul Tremlin, and saw first baseman Dominic D'Anna hit his sixth home run of the season, but it would not be enough as the Pacific Tigers (23-14, 6-5 BWC) won their first game of the series in their 4-1 win over the Matadors Saturday afternoon.

As was the case in Friday's contest, Pacific created the first scoring opportunity of the game when centerfielder Brett Christopher hit a triple to centerfield with one out in the first inning.

When Tiger first baseman Brian Martin flied out to Matador centerfielder Nate Ring later in the inning, the partisan crowd at Klein Family Field clapped respectfully as they felt the ball was hit hard enough to score the first run of the game.

By sending the runner home from third, Pacific coach Ed Sprague challenged Ring's arm strength and gambled that the freshman could not make the accurate throw needed to prevent the Tigers from scoring. By recording the second out of the double-play with a perfect one-hop throw to Dominic Piazza, Ring not only successfully responded to the challenge but eradicated Pacific's scoring opportunity in the process as the Matador catcher applied the tag just a split-second before Christopher touched home plate to end the inning.

Unfortunately for the Matadors, the momentum created from that throw would quickly disappear the very next inning due to an unlucky bounce on a ground ball to third base that would enable Pacific to score one run.

After allowing third baseman Mike Walker to reach base on a lead-off double, the Matadors quickly earned the first out of the inning when Tremlin induced J.B. Brown to fly out to centerfield.

It was a ground ball to Matador third baseman Justin DeMarco that enabled Walker to score; if Joe Olivera's grounder to third base did not ricochet unexpectedly at the last minute, DeMarco would have easily scooped up the hard-hit shot, recorded the second out of the inning, and prevented Walker to score. Instead the ball deflected off the side of DeMarco's head into shallow left field for the first run of the game.

Thankfully, the only damage created in the inning was on the scoreboard and the junior quickly shook off the effects of the play, and was ready to resume his duties at the hot corner just moments later.

After a scoreless third inning, the Matadors lit up the scoreboard with two outs in the fourth on a solo home run to right-centerfield from D'Anna.

With the count at 3-2, everyone at Klein Family Field knew D'Anna's blast would easily clear the fences once the ball left his bat, tying the game at one apiece. With that swing, D'Anna now has a total of six home runs this season, trailing only Ryan Pineda for the highest total on the team.

Outside of the unfortunate bounce in the bottom of the second, Tremlin successfully mixed his pitches against the Pacific line-up to keep them guessing at the plate during his time on the hill.

It was not until the bottom of the sixth inning when two Tigers reached base that Coach Rousey decided to utilize his bullpen for the first time in the series, calling in Jimmy Jolicoeur to keep the Tigers at bay.

In Tremlin's five-inning outing, the right-hander allowed only three hits, and only gave up one run on 74 pitches thrown.

With two runners on base, and zero outs in the inning, Jolicoeur forced the next two batters to fly out to left and centerfield respectively, before Brown reached base on a walk to load the bases.

It was then when CSUN experienced a bad case of déjà vu as another ground ball towards third took a bad hop in the dirt, allowing two Pacific runners to score on the play, extending their lead to 3-1.

As was the case in the bottom of the second inning, DeMarco was in perfect position to make the play and end the inning; were it not for his lightning-quick reflexes, the ball could have easily passed him by and squirted into left-field. Instead, DeMarco was able to deflect the ball off his chest towards second base.

Had DeMarco not made such a heads-up play on the ball, all three runs could have crossed the plate for Pacific as everyone took off and sprinted towards the next sequential base once the ball was put into play.

It then took Jolicoeur only two pitches to end the Tiger rally when he induced a pop fly to right field for the third out of the inning, limiting Pacific to only the two runs scored in the inning.

Pacific would tack on another run in the eighth to stretch their lead to 4-1 going into the ninth inning.

With Pacific reliever Hunter Carnevale now on the mound, Northridge refused to give up without a fight, and came out swinging from their first at-bat.

On the very first pitch thrown his way, Pineda smacked a double to centerfield to immediately place himself in scoring position. After watching his teammate strikeout on five pitches, DeMarco singled to right field, giving CSUN an opportunity to tie the game on one swing.

Unfortunately for CSUN, Carnevale would strikeout the next two batters to silence the Matador rally to earn his fourth save of the season.

Tomorrow's rubber match will feature a pair of right-handers as CSUN starter Alex Muren (2-1, 4.21) will square off against Pacific's Jake Hummel (4-2, 3.08) in the third, and decisive game of the weekend. An internet radio broadcast and GameTracker will be available for Sunday's game at GoMatadors.com, first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Matadors     000 100 000 - 1 7 3

Pacific        010 002 01x - 4 6 1

Win - Rowse (7-0)    Loss - Tremlin (5-5)   Save - Carnevale (4)

T - 2:37   A - 396