NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
After trailing by three runs in the middle innings, Cal State Northridge rallied to score four unanswered and beat Long Beach State 6-5 on Sunday afternoon at Matador Field. Chester Pak had four hits and Nicolas Osuna drove in a pair of runs as the Matadors (12-16, 1-2 Big West) salvaged a game in the series against the Dirtbags (13-13, 2-1 Big West).
"We scored more runs than them today," said CSUN head coach Greg Moore. "I thought we played essentially the same in the last two games. Our offense was pretty tenacious today in the middle innings. I thought we executed as well both days but it's baseball. We got a kick today and they got one yesterday."
The Matadors scored twice in the bottom of the first to take an early lead on the visitors. Ranny Lowe laced a single down the left field line and moved up to second when a sacrifice bunt attempt by Ryan Raslowsky was misplayed by first baseman Ino Patron. Both runners were safe on the play and Lowe scored on the next pitch when Pak singled to left field and left fielder Johnny Bekakis had trouble keeping the ball in front of him.
With one out in the inning, Osuna hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Raslowsky and gave CSUN a 2-0 lead.
The Dirtbags wasted little time in tying the score, however, as two runs in the top of the second came in to score for LBSU. Michael Hill scored on a ground out by Alex Bishop and Bekakis hit a solo home run to left field that Nick Blaser nearly hauled in as it went over the fence.
Long Beach State took the lead for the first time and held a 5-2 advantage after scoring three runs in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs, Bishop hit an RBI double and scored on an RBI single by Bekakis. Bekakis later scored on an RBI single by Daniel Jackson.
Cal State Northridge began to chip away at the deficit and plated two runs in the home half of the fifth. With one out Lowe walked and he and Raslowsky were both safe on a fielding error by second baseman Alex DeGoti, who tried and failed to get the out at second.
Pak loaded the bases with an infield single to third base and Lowe scored on an RBI single by Blaser. Osuna then hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, this time to center field, to score Raslowsky and bring the Matadors within a run at 5-4.
The Matadors took the lead at 6-5 with a run in the bottom of the 7th thanks in part to another infield single for Pak. Blaser moved Pak to second with a sacrifice bunt and Osuna advanced him to third with a single through the right side of the infield. After Osuna stole second and Michael Livingston was intentionally walked to load the bases Nick Murphy, who replaced Garbella after the sixth inning, singled to score Pak.
"I was looking for a fastball and with two strikes I dug in, fought and turned on one," said Murphy.
The Dirtbags had an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the ninth but could not convert. Jackson hit a deep fly ball to left that Blaser caught on the warning track and Long Beach State eventually loaded the bases with two outs before CSUN closer Shay Maltese entered and got a pop fly for the one-out save.
Relief pitcher John Salas (3-1) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to earn the win while Maltese picked up his fifth save on the season and third of the week. Ty Provencher (4-3) allowed the eventual winning run and was saddled with the loss for LBSU.
Lowe, Balkan and Alexander all had two hits in the game for the Matadors while Pak turned in his second four-hit game of the year to match his career high.
"I just tried to keep it simple and my teammates were backing me up the whole way," said Pak. "The last few games I've struggled, but my teammates have kept pushing me forward and they've been my motivation."
The Matadors will hit the road for their next series, traveling to UC Riverside for three Big West Conference games beginning on Friday, April 4th. First pitch from the Riverside Sports Complex is scheduled for 6 p.m.