May 13, 2008

Big Inning the Difference in 9-4 Northridge Defeat

May 13, 2008

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge (22-28) dropped its third straight decision Tuesday, falling at Matador Field to a game Portland (21-30) squad by a 9-4 count. Ryan Pineda went yard for the second time this year and Jeff Pruitt had a career-high three knocks for Northridge.

Billy Ott took the mound with a Matador season-high eight freshman behind him but caused most of his own trouble on the mound. The sophomore right hander walked four and hit three through the first three innings but surrendered just one hit, and he managed to come out of the opening three innings with just one run against him. Portland collected another run in the fourth on a solo home run.

The offensive struggles continued for Northridge, which didn't manage a hit until the third frame. In that inning, it was Pruitt smacking a single up the middle but getting caught attempting a steal.

The Matadors finally dented the scoreboard in the fourth when a one-out double for Pineda turned into a score when Matt Warr scorched a single off the glove of the diving shortstop and into left field. The run ended a run of 20 scoreless innings for the Matadors.

The Pilots notched two more runs in a fifth inning that saw eight Portland hitters come to the plate, but Eric Billings came on in relief with the bases loaded and, despite a one-run single, closed out the frame with limited damage done.

Northridge answered in the bottom half of the frame, making it a one-run game on Justin DeMarco's two-run double into left field that scored Jason Dabbs and Pruitt, who was on with his second base hit.

The momentum made a big shift in the sixth. With Pete Mendez on from the bullpen, six consecutive men reached base after a lead off ground out. The Rally climaxed with a three run homer that put the Pilots up 8-3, and an RBI single later in the inning put Portland up 9-3.

Ryan Pineda led off the eighth with a solo blast over the left field wall that narrowed the lead to five, but that was all. Paul Tremlin shut down the Pilot attack nicely over the final three innings, but the damage was done. The final score went in the books as 9-4.

Pruitt was 3-for-4 on the day and Pineda was 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored.

The Matadors now gear up for a three game set with Pacific that ushers Northridge back into Big West Conference play. Currently the eighth- and ninth-place teams in the conference respectively, Northridge and Pacific can each gain ground on the pack in the Big West.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m. with live audio available on GoMatadors.com.