09 Dec 2021 | 06:55 | Baseball
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—CSUN Baseball (20-16, 20-16 Big West) earned a 6-4 win on Senior Day, completing a four-game sweep of Hawai’i (23-19, 15-17 Big West) on Sunday afternoon at Matador Field. Five seniors collected hits in the contest while senior pitcher Jackson Cunningham nailed down the win with his second save of the season. Jayson Newman and Carlos Arellano each had two hits and drove in a run in their final home game. The Matadors scored two runs in the seventh, breaking a 4-4 tie and held on the rest of the way for their fifth-straight victory.
After an emotional pre-game ceremony celebrating their senior class, the Matadors took the field looking for their first home sweep of the season.
Blaine Traxel was strong early on the mound, scattering four hits over the first five innings, keeping Hawai’i off the scoreboard over that span.
CSUN broke a scoreless tie in the third inning, taking advantage of two wild pitches by Logan Pouelsen. After Arellano walked and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt, two-straight wild pitches by Pouelsen allowed Arellano to score the game’s first run.
The bats would come alive in the bottom of the fourth inning when four hits including a timely bunt hit led to three more Matador runs. Denzel Clarke and Blake Doremus each hit one-out singles in the frame before a two-out hit from Arellano made it a 2-0 game. As they have done all series long, the Matadors put pressure on the defense, which resulted in two more runs later in the inning. With the bases loaded, Robert Bullard laid down a squeeze bunt and reached first base, scoring Doremus from third. On the play, Pouelsen lost his footing trying to throw out Bullard and an errant throw allowed another run to score.
Pitching with a 4-0 lead, Traxel cruised until the sixth inning before Hawai’i turned the tables with two key home runs. With two runners on and one out, Adam Fogel belted a three-run home run to pull the Rainbow Warriors within one. The next batter, Jacob Igawa, followed with another homer to tie the game at 4-4. Traxel though retired two of the next three batters to help keep the game tied up.
Traxel returned to the mound in the seventh where a walk and a two-out hit led to a pitching change. Zuko Tillman came on to face Dustin Demeter and struck him out before Chad Wilson retired Fogel on a groundout to escape the jam.
In the home half of the seventh, the Matadors looked to reclaim the lead when Brandon Bohning singled and Bullard sacrificed him over to second base. Moments later, Bohning stole third but an errant throw forced the go-ahead run across home plate. Later in the inning, Jose Ruiz doubled and Newman picked up an RBI single to put CSUN on top 6-4.
CSUN’s bullpen continued its strong pitching over the last two innings to secure the victory. Wilson faced the minimum in the eighth, receiving a lift from a 7-4 double play. An inning later, Cunningham retired the side in order for his second save in as many days.
Eight of the 11-member senior class consisting of Arellano, Bullard, Cunningham, Doremus, Newman, Ruiz, Jason Ajamian and Dalton Vanhille all played in Sunday’s series finale. Unable to compete on Sunday, senior pitchers Blake Schriever and Michael Cartwright and catcher Sean Skelly also threw ceremonial pitches in-between innings.
Clarke extended his on-base streak to 22-straight games and his hit streak to 18. Newman also stretched his hit streak to 17-straight games. Kai Moody has reached base safely in 21 consecutive games after going 1-for-4.
Wilson earned the victory with 1.1 shutout innings of work to improve to 3-2 on the season. Traxel finished with 6.1 innings pitched and four runs allowed to go with seven strikeouts.
ACCORDING TO HEAD COACH DAVE SERRANO
“There’s been a lot of adjustments made by these guys, and I commend them for that. The defense has been there all along and the offense has been really consistent, but [the difference has been] the pitching and the baserunning. That’s what has turned this whole team around.
It’s about [the seniors] today. As their coach, I’m so proud of us winning the last game on our field for these guys. There was a point in our season where as a coaching staff we were worried about which way we were going. When you have character guys like this, it won’t happen and they won’t let it happen. This will forever be remembered for me as the ‘what if’ team. What if our season doesn’t get cut short last year? What if we had a regular fall and practice season in January? What could this team have done? I’m not pointing fingers, that’s what happened with the pandemic. But this team kept grinding, it took us a while to hit our stride but we’re hitting a stride now. We’re playing good baseball. We’re showing we could win games by lopsided scores and we could win the close games.”
The Matadors take a week off and will return to action for their final series of the season the following weekend at UC San Diego. The opener of the series is set for Thursday, May 27 at 5 p.m. All four games of the series will air live on ESPN3.