NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Steady scoring in the back half allowed the CSUN Matadors (24-14, 3-9 Big West) to push past the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (18-19, 7-5 Big West) for the series win on Sunday at Matador Stadium, dealing the ‘Bows a 9-3 loss.
The Matadors were able to jump out front early, as four walks and a single in the second put starting pitcher Alex Hitch and the Rainbow Warriors in a tight spot, producing a 2-0 CSUN advantage in the early going.
The Matadors added some scoring in the fourth, as Nolan Flashman’s two-out double set CSUN up for an Yusuke Akitoshi full count RBI single. Hatch eluded the danger of a bases-loaded situation to close the frame with only one run scored.
Slow starters at the plate, the Rainbow Warriors made a move in the sixth, running off starter Andrew Weston after consecutive singles and a walk. Facing reliever Nick Viola, left fielder Marcus Doi made the bases-loaded opportunity count, firing a two-run single up the middle to trim the deficit to a single run.
In the bottom half, CSUN took it back, as Fred Smith singled through the left side with two outs, scoring Flashman, who reached on a leadoff single off UH reliever Josh Pigg. Branden Berry followed with a third consecutive single for the Matadors, bringing home Justin Toerner on the full count hit-and-run play for the 5-2 advantage.
Working down the UH pitching staff in the seventh, three free passes came back to bite the ‘Bows, as Akitoshi continued a big series with a two-run double grounded up the middle to push the Matadors advantage out to 7-3.
Three UH runners left on base across the final three frames proved costly, including a bases loaded situation in the eighth with no outs, as CSUN tacked up two more runs in the eighth, opened by Berry’s second home run of the series, as CSUN pulled away with the 9-3 game and 2-1 series win.
Hatch (3-5) took the loss for the ‘Bows, cut short at 5.0 innings after allowing five hits and three runs, walking six and striking out five.
For the Matadors, starter Weston was also short at 5.1 innings, giving three hits and two runs, striking out two and walking two.
Weeks and Sheldon-Collins each batted 2-for-4 on the day with a run scored, Weeks adding an RBI.
The Rainbow Warriors mainland run continues on Monday with a matchup at Loyola Marymount (20-20), with first pitch slated for 6:00 p.m. PDT (3:00 p.m. HT) at George C. Page Stadium. Next up for the ‘Bows is a Big West series at UC Santa Barbara, April 29 – May 1.
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