NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Cal State Northridge scored all the runs it would need in a four-run third inning to secure a series-opening 7-3 win over UC Santa Barbara in Friday afternoon's Big West tilt at Matador Field.
CSUN (15-16, 2-2 Big West) plated each run in that decisive rally with two outs, stringing together four straight hits off UCSB (11-16, 1-3) starter Noah Davis after Alvaro Rubalcaba got it all started with a one-out walk.
UCSB answered right back with two runs in the next frame on consecutive sac flies from Austin Bush and Armani Smith. Leadoff hitter Colton Burns began that inning by working a full-count walk before moving to third on Billy Fredrick's double to right.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, that was as close as they would get as CSUN put the game away with a three-run fifth highlighted by a two-run home run from DH Albee Weiss.
Right-hander Tei Vanderford earned the victory for the Matadors after turning in a quality start, surrendering three runs over eight-plus innings. He allowed an infield single to Smith to open the ninth inning before being lifted for closer Conner O'Neil. Smith eventually came around to score on a JJ Muno RBI groundout before O'Neil could get three outs.
Davis was hung with the loss for UCSB after giving up seven earned over six innings.
Freshman righties Chris Lincoln and Connor Roberts – in his NCAA debut – each turned in scoreless relief innings late in the game. Roberts didn't allow a hit, but had to work himself out of a jam after hitting a batter and walking another. Wiggle out of the jam he did however, coaxing a harmless pop fly from shortstop Fred Smith to end the threat.
With a pair of base hits each, Bush and center fielder Tommy Jew were the top offensive performers for UCSB.
The Gauchos and Matadors continue their series tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. UCSBGauchos.com will have a live audio broadcast of the contest.