May 6, 2011
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Andrew Muren singled home a run in the sixth and threw out a runner trying to score in the eighth, and Vincent Roberts earned his first victory of the season as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (19-25, 2-11 Big West) worked toward a 4-0 shutout of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (19-20, 5-8 Big West) on Friday afternoon at Matador Field.
Roberts (1-5, 4.11 ERA) pitched 7.0 innings and struck out four batters but received just one run of support before the Matadors scored three times in the bottom of the eighth to seal the game.
Both teams were able to get runners on base early in innings, as all four leadoff men in the first two innings reached safely, but had difficulties cracking the tough pitching and defense that dominated much of the game.
In the bottom of the first inning, Ridge Carpenter opened things with a single to left field on an 0-2 count and stole his team-high 14th base of the season with one out. Carpenter reached third after Muren grounded out but could not score as Steven Keller's deep fly ball was corralled by the centerfielder for the final out.
Roberts found himself in some trouble with runners in the early stages, as the Gauchos got a hit in five of the first six innings, with the other having a runner reach first on a fielding error. Roberts allowed his defense to make plays behind him, as outfielders were responsible for 10 putouts. In all, only two UC Santa Barbara runners reached second base before the eighth inning of play.
After Joe Wallace reached first on an error with two outs in the top of the fourth, the Matador defense was able to keep him from advancing as Marty Bowen threw to Tommy Simis, who played shortstop for the first time this season, to catch Wallace stealing for the final out.
In the top of the sixth inning, Mark Haddow singled with one out for the Gauchos. After striking out the next batter, Roberts allowed Haddow to advance to second on a wild pitch. He was able to keep his composure, however, and struck out Ryan Palermo to retire the side and strand the runner in scoring position.
The Matadors were able to put across the first run of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Carpenter hit a sharp ground ball to the second baseman, who had the ball hit off of his chest and deflect into right field for an error. Chris Allen laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Carpenter to second with one out. Muren then followed with a single up the middle on a 2-2 pitch to bring home the run and put Northridge ahead 1-0 after six innings.
The following half-inning, UC Santa Barbara had another one-out runner following a hit by pitch. Roberts was aided by his defense twice more, as the next batter hit a soft fly ball down the right field line that Carpenter tracked down after a long run to keep the runner from advancing. With two outs, the Gaucho runner tried to swipe second and was cut down by Bowen behind the plate once again to end the inning.
The biggest defensive play of the game, however, took place in the top of the eighth inning with the Matadors ahead 1-0. After Joshua Goossen-Brown took over on the mound for Roberts, Northridge recorded the first two outs in order. Sean Williams walked and Haddow hit an infield single to give UC Santa Barbara runners on first and second for Trevor Whyte.
Whyte singled to center field on the first pitch of the at-bat, and Williams was waved around by the third base coach in an attempt to tie the game. Muren came up firing from center and delivered a strike to the catcher Bowen, who applied the tag as Williams was sliding and held onto the ball for the third out of the inning.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth, the Matadors extended the lead to 4-0 as three insurance runs came around for Northridge. Kyle Attl walked to open the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Carpenter dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Attl to third with one out before both Allen and Muren were hit by pitches to load the bases.
TS Reed, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the top of the eighth, hit a dribbler back to the pitcher, who tried to get the force out at the plate but threw wide of the catcher. Both Attl and Allen scored on the error and Muren and Reed ended up on third and second, respectively. On the next pitch, Bowen successfully converted a squeeze bunt to score Muren, but Reed was thrown out at the plate trying to sneak in another run after Bowen was put out at first.
Goossen-Brown finished off the game on the mound for the Matadors for his fifth save of the season. The shutout win was the first for Northridge since a 2-0 victory on Opening Day against Seattle University at Matador Field.
Carpenter finished the day 2-for-3 with a run scored and Muren went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored as the Matadors earned just their second Big West win of the year and the first overall victory since a 13-6 decision over Pacific on April 21.
Adam Barry (1-for-2) also singled for Northridge and Nate Ring stole a base after a pinch running in the seventh inning in a new-look lineup that featured Attl at second base, Simis at shortstop and Goossen-Brown at third base with Reed out of the starting nine.
The series will continue at Matador Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. as right-handed pitcher Paul Tremlin will toe the rubber for the Matadors. The finale is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. and is Strike Out Cancer Day with all fans wearing pink receiving free admission.