NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
While the most exciting thing about Sunday's doubleheader between Cal State Northridge and Washington State may be the fact that the games survived the weekend's weather, a bit of history was witnessed as the Matadors (6-5) and Cougars (2-7) each picked up 1-0 wins at Matador Field. The doubleheader represented the first time Cal State Northridge had been involved in consecutive 1-0 contests since 1972 when the Matadors lost at Cal Poly before defeating Cal Lutheran on the road.
"Playing in close games is the best teacher," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "It forces players to go one pitch at a time and figure out the right balance between rhythm and concentration."
Game 1 Recap:
The Cougars won the first game of the doubleheader thanks to an unearned run in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Ian Sagdal drew a walk and eventually moved up to third when a pickoff throw by Brycen Rutherford went wide of the base as rain began to fall at Matador Field.
Two batters later, Ben Roberts reached on an infield single that scored Sagdal and put Washington State ahead 1-0.
The Matadors had runners in scoring position in four separate innings but were unable to find a breakthrough against the Cougars. Three potential rallies came to an end on inning-ending double plays.
Aside from the lone run in the top of the fifth, Rutherford and the Matadors were flawless on the defensive side of the ball. The pitching staff allowed just four hits on the day and combined for six strikeouts.
Rutherford (1-1) allowed three hits and walked two batters while striking out four in 7.0 innings in the loss. Joe Pistorese (1-0) struck out one batter and allowed six hits in 7.0 scoreless innings to earn the win for Washington State. Ian Hamilton pitched the ninth inning for the Cougars to pick up his first save.
The loss marked the first 1-0 game CSUN competed in since a loss at Long Beach State on April 17, 2009.
Game 2 Recap:
The second game saw the Matadors come away with a 1-0 victory for the first time since February 24, 2006, against UC Riverside. In a game that was shortened to seven innings due to a travel curfew for Washington State, Michael Livingston's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth resulted in the eventual winning run for Cal State Northridge.
Trek Stemp opened the game with a single on the first pitch he saw from Jordan Johnson. Johnson kept focus, however, and teamed up with Dylan Alexander and Brett Balkan to record a strikeout and catch Stemp trying to steal second base.
The Matadors nearly scored in the bottom of the second inning after Alexander hit an infield single that moved Nicolas Osuna to third. On the next play, the Washington State third baseman fielded the ball on a hop and was able to get Osuna on a play at the plate.
Washington State recorded its first hit in the top of the third when Trace Tam Sing singled to right center with two outs. Johnson did not allow another hit until the top of the fifth.
After Tam Sing hit his second single of the game with two outs, Stemp followed with a single of his own with runners at first and second. Patrick McGrath tried to score on the play, but Ranny Lowe's throw from center field was right on the money to Alexander and got McGrath in plenty of time.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Matadors found the run they'd been searching for all day. Nick Blaser opened the frame with his second hit of the game and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Balkan.
Chester Pak was intentionally walked and Alexis Mercado drew a walk in a long at-bat to load the bases for Livingston, who came on as a pinch hitter. With one out, Livingston lifted a sac fly to center field and the throw to the plate was cut off as Blaser scored easily.
"I gotta score," said Blaser when asked what was going through his mind as the ball was hit by Livingston. "We were in the bottom of the sixth and since we were only playing seven I gotta score right there, somehow get to the plate safely."
Shay Maltese entered the game in relief of Johnson with one out in the top of the seventh and recorded two quick outs to seal the win. Johnson (2-1) finished the game with three strikeouts and four hits allowed in 6.1 scoreless innings to earn the victory while Maltese notched his first save of the year. Tanner Chleborad (0-2) pitched 5.2 innings with four strikeouts and one run allowed in the losing effort for Washington State.
The Matadors will now hit the road for their next five games, beginning with a road test on Tuesday, March 4, at CSU Bakersfield. First pitch from Hardt Field in Bakersfield, Calif., is scheduled for 6 p.m.
"I don't think playing on the road changes things much. Our guys just want to play baseball, they don't care where it is," concluded Moore.