April 13, 2008
FULLERTON, Calif. - Freshman catcher Chris Hannick almost led Northridge to a huge comeback, but a 12-run deficit was too much to overcome. Cal State Northridge (14-16, 4-5) ultimately fell 17-15 to Cal State Fullerton (20-12, 6-2) Sunday in the rubber match of their Big West Conference set.
The Northridge hitters represented well but the pitching staff had its issues. Drew Muren escaped the first without being scored upon and Northridge actually held the early advantage after scoring the second. From there the action unraveled for the Matadors, culminating with a seven-run Titan third in which three Matador hurlers combined for six free passes via walk or hit batsmen. The seven runs gave Fullerton a 12-2 advantage.
There was also scattered action on the Matadors' half of the ledger. In the second Ryan Pineda smacked a double down the left field line and was later cashed in on Chris Hannick's double into the left field gap. In the third, it was Cates with the RBI double as he brought around John Parham.
After a two-run Titan fourth that made it 14-2 in Fullerton's favor Northridge got back to the bats. Billy Swanson had the first of four consecutive one-out hits for the Matadors, notching a single and being followed by a Parham double, Cates single, and Ryan Pineda single. After Muren made it two outs after a ground out, Chris Hannick stepped up and crushed his third career home run, a three-run, opposite field blast that narrowed the score to 14-7.
Northridge slimmed the Titan lead again in the sixth with a couple of scores and Fullerton answered with three in the bottom half. In the seventh, Hannick's second shot of the game, this one a two-run blast over the left field wall, put Northridge within six.
The Northridge bullpen put a six-game streak of holding opponents scoreless after the sixth on the line Sunday, and it was Ryan Juarez continuing a relief stint in the seventh in hopes of continuing the run.
The Matadors continued their comeback bid in the eighth, and this time it was Pineda and Drew Muren getting aboard for Hannick who smacked his third home run and registered his ninth RBI, which puts him in the books alongside Robert Fick as the single-game standard-bearers in runs batted in.
In the ninth, Northridge quickly fell into a two-out situation after back-to-back groundouts to open the frame. Back-to-back singles that put the tying run at the plate followed that sequence, setting up a double off the bat of Ryan Pineda. With Chris Hannick on deck and ready to continue his already record-setting day, Drew Muren could not push a run across. The designated hitter bounded out to second base to end the inning and freeze the final score at 17-15.
Hannick became the first player in at least five seasons to collect three home runs in a contest and joined Robert Fick as players in Northridge history bring in nine runs in one game.
Northridge returns to action Tuesday against UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins and Matadors have to finish a game from earlier in the season, an affair that was halted in the eighth with the Bruins leading 22-2. That game will pick up at 4:30 in Los Angeles with a regularly scheduled game shortly to follow.