Matadors Drops Close Battle to Fullerton in 10 innings

09 Dec 2021 | 06:48 | Baseball

NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—CSUN Baseball (9-15, 9-15 Big West) battled back from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game in the ninth but Cal State Fullerton pushed the winning run across in the 10th and held off a late rally to win 6-5 on Sunday at Matador Field. Blaine Traxel gave the Matadors eight solid innings of work, allowing five runs but only three were earned. On the hitting side, Robert Bullard went 3-for-5 with a run scored while Denzel Clarke finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Looking for the series win on Sunday, the Matadors turned to Traxel to slow down the Titan hitters.

Traxel pitched a clean first inning but would run into trouble an inning later. Two hits including an RBI single from Isaiah Garcia gave the Titans a 1-0 edge.

The Matadors though evened the game in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a pair of throwing errors by Fullerton starter Kyle Luckham. After Clarke singled to kick off the frame, he reached second on a failed pickoff attempt. Clarke eventually touched home plate when Luckham made an errant throw home off an infield single from CJ Yogi. Luckham prevented any further damage by retiring two-straight batters to strand the bases loaded.

After the second inning, the game took the shape of an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel with Traxel and Luckham trading zeroes on the mound. Traxel pitched around singles in the third, fourth and fifth innings, leaving five runners on base over that span. He then retired seven-straight batters to keep the Titans off the scoreboard for five consecutive innings. On the flip side, Luckham retired 14 of 15 batters after the CSUN run in the second.

The game remained tied at 1-1 until the bottom of the seventh when the Matadors put up a single tally. Brandon Bohning began the rally with a one-out single before stealing second base. After Bullard reached on a fielding error by second baseman Jake Harvey, Kai Moody brought home Bohning on a sacrifice fly. Fullerton’s closer Cameron Repetti would limit the damage by retiring Jayson Newman, leaving two Matadors on base.

Traxel returned to the mound in the eighth where two CSUN errors and timely hits from the Titans resulted in a four-run inning. A throwing error off the bat of Jake Harvey started the inning then three-straight singles tied the game at 2-2. After Jackson Lyon hit a sacrifice fly and Nate Nankil hit an RBI single, a throwing error at third base kept the inning alive off a JT Navya bunt. Josh Urps capped the inning with another sacrifice fly to put CSUN down 5-2.

Despite the rough inning, the Matadors kept on battling over the next two innings. In the eighth, CSUN got a run closer after Clarke singled and Mason Le roped an RBI double. CSUN completed the comeback in the ninth inning as key hits from Jose Ruiz and Newman tied the game. Ruiz would hit a one-out double to bring home Bullard then Newman singled through the left side to bring home pinch runner Nathan Barraza making it a 5-5 game. Friday starter Tanner Bibee came out of the Fullerton bullpen to retire two of the next three batters to send the game to extras.

Kyle Hoskins, who stranded a runner at third in the top of the ninth, gave up a leadoff single in the 10th. Jackson Cunningham entered out of the bullpen and retired two of the next three batters but Deylan Pigford delivered with a go-ahead RBI single.

CSUN looked for another rally in the bottom of the 10th against Bibee after back-to-back one-out singles from Carlos Arellano and Bullard. Bibee though retired Moody on a grounder and struck out Luke Powell to end the game.

Traxel struck out five batters and scattered nine hits over his eight innings of work. The right-hander has now tossed seven innings or more in five consecutive starts.

Bullard extended his on-base streak to 12-straight games while Clarke stretched his on-base streak to 10. Le went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in nine-straight games.

“The scoreboard is going to say we lost, the standings are going to show we went 2-2 this weekend but we won this weekend. Why I say that, in the big picture, I’m proud of our guys. I’m proud of the steps they’ve taken. This was our best weekend of the year of how we play baseball from the first pitch Friday at three o’clock to right now at five o’clock on a Sunday when the last pitch was thrown. What we’re looking for is progress. When you’re building something that really hasn’t happened before you’ve got to be in these types of games and we’ve had two of them this weekend – the one we lost on Saturday, the first game of the doubleheader and today.

I could tell by the jubilation of the Fullerton players, they had to go back to their Friday starter to finish the game on Sunday. I could just tell by their reaction that they were excited to get that win and that probably hasn’t happened in a long time from a Cal State Fullerton team in beating a Northridge team. Nothing but positive things for me and my coaching staff and these players. I’m proud of these players, we’re getting better. I’ve said that for a long time, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to build this program to be better.”

The Matadors hit the road for the next two weekends starting with a four-game series at CSU Bakersfield. First pitch for the opener on Friday is set for 3 p.m. All four games in the series will stream on ESPN3.


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December 20th, 2021