Northridge Takes Series Opener, 5-4 vs. USC
May 10, 2008
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Cal State Northridge (22-25) flirted with the line between victory and defeat al evening but came out on the good side of a 5-4 decision at USC's Dedeaux field. Ryan Pineda brought in the go-ahead runs and Edwin Quirarte stranded two Trojans in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win.
Trojan hurler Tommy Milone got out to the hot start for USC, retiring the first eight men he faced and helping the Trojans to an early 1-0 lead.
In the second, a leadoff double but Northridge starter Phil Hann. Keith Castillo's two-bagger led to the opening score and gave USC the one score advantage.
On the Northridge side of things, the offense took a handful of innings to hit its stride. In the fourth, however, the bats came alive and evened the ledger at one apiece. John Parham capitalized on a fielding error at the tail end of his single into right field to move to second and then moved up two more on a Richard Cates double.
The Matadors continued the momentum into the fifth. After Matt Warr led off the frame by bouncing a line drive off the wall in left field for a triple, Jason Dabbs hit a bounder over to Roberto Lopez at third that was muffed, allowing Warr to cross the dish. Dabbs later scored on a TS Reed single, giving Northridge a 3-1 advantage.
Hann found his groove as well. After giving up the score in the second, Hann strung together three consecutive blank frames before a troublesome sixth. In that inning, the Trojans logged three hits, and if not for a base running mistake that resulted in Trojan speedster Nick Buss being gunned down at the dish, USC may have been able to score more than the one run they managed. Grant Green scored on a Castillo double to halve the Matador lead.
The men of Troy evened the score in the seventh. With reliever Davin Tate on the hill, USC got a man aboard with two outs when catcher Robert Stock was hit by an 0-2 fastball. Pinch runner Mike O'Neill came around to score after a balk and a Roberto Lopez double to level the scoreboard at 3-3. Edwin Quirarte came on for the third out, which he got on the first hitter he faced.
Northridge started the process of retaking the lead in the top of the eighth. In that frame, Jeff Pruitt logged his second bunt single to lead things off and TS Reed followed with a line drive single back through the box. Head coach Steve Rousey opted to have John Parham lay down the sac bunt, but the junior failed to execute and went down looking.
That left runners at first and second with one down and top RBI man Richard Cates at the plate. Cates bounded a ball over to shortstop that took Green too far out of position to hope for a play at first. The sophomore opted instead to try for Pruitt at third, but his flip was too late. Pruitt slid in safely, securing a single for Cates and loading the bases.
The infield hit prompted Trojan skipper Chad Kreuter to dip into his bullpen for former Friday starter Brad Boxberger to face Ryan Pineda. Pineda promptly lined a 1-0 fastball into center field, sending in Pruitt and Reed and sending the Matadors into a 5-3 lead.
Northridge gave one back in the bottom of the eighth as Quirarte coughed up a leadoff triple to Green and Chris Hannick mishandled a back pick play that allowed Green to score.
Northridge went down quietly in the top half of the ninth, setting up a chance for Quirarte to nail down his third win. The junior closer got the first two men he faced before surrendering a single and walking man to put the tying run on second with Trojan powerhouse Green at the plate. Quirarte induced a hard bouncer out to second that Reed was able to corral, and a good throw to first secured the 5-4 win.