Matadors Edge Hornets on Opening Day 6-4


Stellar defense and timely hitting proved to be just enough as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (1-0) defeated the Sacramento State Hornets (0-1) 6-4 at John Smith Field on Friday afternoon. A two-run single by junior Brett Balkan gave the Matadors key insurance runs in the ninth inning to seal the victory.

The Matadors were the first to score when Dylan Young brought home Marty Bowen on a ground out in the second inning. Bowen was hit by a pitch to open the inning and eventually advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Miles Williams.

Sacramento State evened the score in the bottom of the second when shortstop Scotty Burcham doubled in a run with two outs.

Chester Pak, playing in his first game for the Matadors after redshirting as a freshman last season, broke the tie in the top of the fourth when he reached on an infield single that scored Williams. The lead did not last for too long, however, as the Hornets scored in the bottom of the fifth on a ground out with a runner on third base.

Northridge answered immediately with a two-run sixth inning in which Williams singled home Bowen and senior Todd Eskelin scored on a double play in the infield.

Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Muren (1-0) started the game on the mound for the Matadors and pitched 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out two for his first win of the season.

After the Hornets cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Matadors extended the margin to 6-3 in the top of the ninth on Balkan's single. Earlier in the inning, Pak looped a double down the left field line with no outs to set the stage for Balkan.

Sacramento State added a final run in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. Freshman pitcher Cole Hallum earned the first save of his career by pitching 2.1 innings and allowing one run on five hits and striking out one.

Williams finished the game 2-for-3, Pak went 2-for-4 and Balkan went 2-for-3 while also earning six assists in the field at third base.

The series continues as the Matadors and Hornets return to action at 1 p.m. at John Smith Field on Saturday, Feb. 18. The probable starters for Saturday's matchup are Vincent Roberts for CSUN and Tanner Mendonca for Sacramento State.

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