March 10, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - A Drew Muren grand slam and six scoreless innings by Billy Ott were all Cal State Northridge (6-5) needed Wednesday afternoon to defeat the #11-ranked East Carolina Pirates (7-4) by a score of 5-3 at Matador Field.
Northridge has won both games against top-25 competition, defeating #18-ranked San Diego Toreros 7-1 earlier in the season.
The blast over the right field wall was Muren's first of the season, combined with a six inning, scoreless effort by teammate Ott, the Matadors finished their six-game homestand with impressive back-to-back performances against Connecticut and East Carolina.
The Pirates were the first team to light up the scoreboard when Trent Whitehead scored from third on a delayed steal.
With Pirate baserunners on first and third, teammate Dustin Harrington drew a throw to second base from Matador catcher Marty Bowen on his attempt to steal second. Once Whitehead saw Bowen react to his teammate's actions, he then sprinted to home, narrowly beating the throw from Matador shortstop TS Reed.
The ECU lead would not last long as Northridge was also able to score in their half of the first inning as well.
After second baseman Ryan Pineda reached base after being hit by a Shawn Armstrong pitch, first baseman Dominic D'Anna lined a double to left-center that would enable Pineda to reach home easily to tie the game at 1-1.
The Pirates reclaimed the lead the very next inning when Pirate second baseman Cameron Freeman was able to turn his base on balls into the second ECU run of the game as he advanced his way around the diamond before scoring on a ground out off the bat of teammate Kyle Roller.
CSUN threatened to score again in their next set of at-bats, but a couple of nice defensive plays by the Pirates kept the Matadors from evening things up.
Matador left-fielder Nate Ring's one-out double to centerfield was followed by a Reed walk, giving the Matadors runners at first and second with one out.
A wild pitch by Armstrong moved Ring over to third, but a dribbler back to the pitcher by Ridge Carpenter was sent right back to the plate, where Ring was tagged for the second out of the inning.
Muren, the very next batter, drove a single into left field that looked as if it would score Reed from second. But an excellent throw from Chris Gosik nailed Reed at the plate, keeping the Pirates' 2-1 lead intact.
The Pirates would maintain their one-run lead for the next two innings, until CSUN was able to get its bats going in the bottom of the fourth.
Matador right fielder C.J. Belanger began things with his single to centerfield, and was followed shortly thereafter by Ring who hit his second double of the season to centerfield, and a walk drawn by Reed to load the bases for the top portion of their lineup.
After Carpenter popped up to the shortstop, Muren stepped to the plate and drove one deep over the right field fence for his first homer of the season, a grand slam that gave the Matadors their first lead of the afternoon at 4-2.
The grand slam was Muren's first as a Matador, making him the most recent player to clear the bases on one swing since D'Anna last accomplished the feat against Cal State Fullerton last season on April 10th.
Ott would pitch until the eighth inning before senior right-hander Bryan Longpre and freshman left-hander Trevor Fredrickson retired all of their respective batters faced before senior closer Jimmy Jolicoeur was summoned from the bullpen.
In his six full innings pitched, Ott gave up only three hits, and tied his career high with seven strikouts en rout to what would eventually become his first victory of the season.
Down to their final swings, East Carolina would threaten again in the top of the ninth, but reliever Jimmy Joliceur was able to earn his second save in as many games after squelching the latest Pirate scoring opportunity in the ninth inning.
With no outs and the bases loaded, Joliceur got Harris to ground into a 5-4-3 double play that allowed one run to score, but got the Matadors out of a dangerous situation.
Joliceur then got the very next batter, left fielder Austin Homan to ground out to second to end Pirate rally, giving the Matadors their second win over a ranked opponent this season.
After allowing two hits in the first inning, the Matador pitching staff iced the Pirates' bats for the remainder of the game as ECU was only able to muster another three hits for the final eight innings of the game.
The Matadors will now enjoy a well-earned day off before traveling to Page Field on the campus of Loyola Marymount for a two-game road series against the Lions beginning this Friday at 2:00.
East Carolina 110 000 001 – 3 5 0
Matadors 100 400 00X – 5 9 2
Win - Ott (1-0) Loss - Armstrong (0-1) Save - Jolicoeur (2)
T - 2:31 A - 184