Matadors Washed Out in Season Opener, 13-7
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -- A Southern California storm delayed the start of the Matadors' scheduled game against Northwestern, but after a 35 minute wait, the skies cleared enough to open the 2008 campaign. The clouds, however, hovered for the Matadors, who suffered a 13-7 setback Friday at Matador Field. The Wildcats scored nine runs in the third to propel them to victory.
The Matadors entered the game on the heels of successful off-season that began with the signing of a host of talented recruits and finished with the emergence of several young players and veterans alike. Tonight's starting pitcher, Jimmy Jolicoeur, was one player looking to rebound after being derailed with an arm injury in 2007. Unfortunately, Jolicoeur will have to wait for the break out performance he was expecting. Jolicoeur surrendered a lead-off single in the first before stranding him with three consecutive ground outs, and gave up a pair of runs in the second, but was really touched up in the third.
In the third, a leadoff double from Jake Goebbert was followed by an RBI triple off the bat of Mike Kalina. After a quick ground out to second baseman Justin DeMarco, six consecutive Wildcat hitters made it aboard and, with the bases loaded, Kalina returned to the plate to face Taylor Austin, who had come on in relief of Jolicoeur. Kalina tagged Austin for a bases-clearing home run. All told, the Wildcats registered nine runs in the frame and came away with an 11 run lead.
The Matadors ate away at the lead in the forthcoming innings, collecting four runs in the bottom of the third and another in the fourth. The Wildcats got back on the board in the sixth and ninth, and a pair of runs on one three-error play were not enough to pull Northridge within striking distance. The Wildcats came away with the win, 13-7.
For the Matadors, five freshmen made their Northridge debuts. Ryan Pineda smacked a three-RBI triple in his first collegiate at bat and wound up 1-for-5, Drew Muren was 2-for-4 after earning the start in left field, and Justin DeMarco was 1-for-3 while playing steady defense at second base. Austin, the freshman lefty, came on in relief and went 4.2 innings, surrendering one earned run, walking just one, and surrendering six hits.
The first-year hurler worked out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth.
In the seventh, a strange occurrence netted the Matadors a pair of runs. Jowen-James Murray-Thornton sent a line drive into left field, which the fielder bobbled, allowing Murray-Thornton to advance to second. Running the bases on the play was Richard Cates, who attempted to score on the miscue. First baseman Goebbert airmailed his relay throw to the dish, and relief Pitcher Matt Havey, backing up home on the plate, sent his throw to third into left field, allowing Murray-Thornton to come around on a three-error play.
Eric Billings tossed two innings to close out the game and gave up two hits, one of them a solo home run at the hand of Goebbert.
Northridge continues their season-opening series with Northwestern Saturday at 1 p.m., weather permitting. Phil Hann will take the hill for the Matadors in hopes of earning the team's first win.