NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Senior left-handed pitcher John Salas threw a complete game and allowed just four hits as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (7-10) snapped a five-game losing streak with a 7-1 win over Utah Valley (4-12) on Monday afternoon at Matador Field. It was the third career complete game for Salas, who was also the last pitcher to go the distance for the Matadors last season.
"I'm just going out there and making pitches," said Salas when asked about his approach on the mound. "The coaches will keep me in there as long as they need to keep me in there. If I'm still executing, I'm still executing, and if I'm not, then I'm not."
Salas was efficient all afternoon for the Matadors despite allowing a one-out single in the second. After the single, Salas retired 16 consecutive Utah Valley batters and did not allow another runner until the seventh.
By that time, the Matadors had built a two-run lead thanks to runs in the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Nick Blaser hit a one-out single and was followed by a Dylan Alexander walk and a Nicolas Osuna single to load the bases. Daniel Timmerman then came through with an RBI single to right field to put CSUN ahead 1-0.
The lead was doubled for the Matadors in the sixth inning thanks to a pair of errors by the Wolverines. Michael Livingston opened the inning by reaching via catcher's interference and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Blaser. Later in the inning, Livingston advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Osuna was safe on a throwing error with two outs.
The Matadors broke the game open in the seventh, scoring five runs and batting around the order. In fact, Cal State Northridge had six consecutive hits to open the inning before an out could be made.
"I really wanted to stick to my plan," said Blaser. "I wanted to see the ball well and up and I got a couple of pitches I could drive and I put a good swing on them."
Utah Valley scored a run in the top of the ninth to break up the shutout but could not piece together the necessary parts of the rally to continue the game. With a man on first after an error and one out, Mark Kruger's double down the left field line plated Sean Moysh.
Salas (2-0) finished the game with seven strikeouts and one unearned run in the complete game victory. Utah Valley starter Devin Nelson (1-3) allowed four runs in 6.0 innings to take the loss. Salas was two outs shy of turning in the first complete-game shutout for the Matadors since Vince Roberts on May 20, 2011 at Long Beach State.
"I did my best to keep them off balance today," added Salas. "Coach Moore called a great game and Dylan [Alexander] did a helluva job behind the plate."
Blaser was perfect on the day for CSUN, going 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt, a double and two RBIs. Timmerman went 2-for-4 on the day with two runs batted in as well.
"When players come off of the bench and they execute well, it provides an opportunity for guys to take a day of rest," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "You put the lineup together and you trust the guys that have been preparing for the entire year. Timmerman in center field got to everything and had some good at-bats and you cannot ask for more."
The Matadors will next take on San Diego State on Tuesday, March 11th. First pitch between CSUN and SDSU is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Matador Field.
The Matadors have added a game to this weekend's series against West Virginia at Matador Field and will now play a doubleheader on Saturday, March 15th, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The added game will allow CSUN to make up the game it lost due to weather last weekend against Washington State.