May 21, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - With his team playing at home for the first time in over two weeks, Cal State Northridge (26-23, 7-12 BWC) designated hitter Alex Muren sent the Matador faithful home happy with his game-winning, sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th inning to help CSUN take the first game of their weekend series against Long Beach State (22-27, 7-12 BWC) by a score of 3-2.
The sacrifice fly was the first game-winning RBI earned by the freshman in his time as a Matador.
His older brother, Drew Muren, helped his team jump out to an early 1-0 lead as the centerfielder swung at the second pitch thrown in the game by Long Beach starter Andrew Gagnon, earning his third home run of the season when the ball came to a rest on the opposite side of the wall in right field.
That one pitch would be the only blemish by either pitcher in the first six innings of the game as Matador starter Billy Ott and Gagnon matched each other's performance as the innings progressed, throwing the pitches needed to keep the other team from lighting up the scoreboard.
Ott threw a season-high 7.2 innings against the 49ers, striking out two batters in the process.
Were it not for one pitch, Long Beach centerfielder Brennan Metzger also went deep to score the only runs of the game for his team, Ott's performance would have been near perfect. Prior to being relieved by teammate Jimmy Jolicoeur, Ott successfully kept the 49er line-up off-balanced, inducing inning-ending fly balls or groundouts when needed to help preserve his team's lead through seven innings.
Up 1-0 after six innings, Northridge added another run in their half of the seventh as the Matadors took full advantage of 49er fielding error that allowed lead-off batter Ryan Pineda to sprint around the diamond to third base.
Justin DeMarco, the very next batter, hit a deep ground ball that was fielded by Long Beach second baseman Matt Duffy, giving Pineda an opportunity to score from third. As the Matador third baseman reached base on what would become a fielder's choice, Duffy caught Pineda in a rundown, quickly throwing to his catcher in an attempt to prevent CSUN from scoring another run.
Having developed a reputation this season as one of the speediest base-runners in the conference, Pineda quickly retreated back to third base, only to make another quick u-turn once 49er catcher Kellen Hoime threw to his teammate Joey Terdoslavich at third.
Instead of giving up on the play, Pineda wisely stayed within the basepath from third to home, and avoided the tag from Terdoslavich who eventually dropped the ball from his glove in his lunging attempt to earn the first out of the inning.
Up 2-0, CSUN would watch Long Beach tie the score at two apiece in the top of the eighth thanks to one swing of the bat, forcing both teams to continue playing into extra innings.
After a scoreless ninth and tenth inning, Alex Muren made the most of the opportunity that was presented to him when he calmly walked to the batter's box in the the bottom of the 11th.
With the bases full of Matadors - Christian Allen led off the inning with a single to left field, followed by a single to center field by Dominic D'Anna and a walk induced by Nate Ring - the freshman approached the plate looking to end the game on a positive note, perhaps avenging the events that took place earlier in the game as well.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, he was mere inches away from hitting his first home run of the season. Were in not for a perfectly-timed leap by 49er left fielder Jonathan Jones, the designated hitter would have scored CSUN's then-second run of the game, potentially negating the need for extra innings from taking place as his solo home run would have been the third CSUN run of the day.
It may have taken an additional six innings, but the freshman was still able to drive in that third Matador run as he swung on a 2-2 count and hit the ball deep enough into the corner in left field to allow Allen to race home from third.
Northridge is now 4-0 in extra-inning games this season, Long Beach is now 1-3 in extra frames.
Both teams will return to Matador Field Saturday afternoon as Matador starter Justen Gorski will face 49er right-hander Branden Pinder in a 1 p.m. matinee match-up. An internet broadcast and GameTracker will be available at GoMatadors.com
Long Beach State 000 000 020 00 - 2 10 2
Matadors 100 000 100 01 - 3 5 0
Win - Jolicoeur (5-1) Loss - Markovitz (2-2) Save - None
T - 3:38 A - 164