Graysen Tarlow’s Grand Slam in the 2nd Inning helps propel a CSUN Baseball Victory over Cal State Fullerton

Sophomore Graysen Tarlow and the Matadors drove in 11 runs to claim victory in game 1 of 3 of a pivotal Big West weekend series as Cal State Northridge hosted the Cal State Fullerton Titans on Friday afternoon. Tarlow went on to drive in 6 runs, including hitting a grand slam in the second inning to help lift his Matadors to a huge 11-4 win on their journey to potentially claim a conference title.

The Matadors played host to first-place Cal State Fullerton with both teams fighting for the top of the Big West standings. CSUN baseball, who are 24-11 for the season, entered the weekend series against the Titans tied for second place with UC Santa Barbara with a conference record of 10-5. Cal State Fullerton, at 24-12 overall, holds the top spot in the Big West Conference with a record of 15-3, and look to finish the season on top of the standings to claim their first conference title since 2018.

Right-hander Lucas Braun took the mound for the Matadors with a record of 3-4 and an era of 4.68. He went on to generate a quick 1-2-3 first inning. Fullerton left-hander Tyler Stultz had his name called to take the mound, but was unable to gather his footing in the first inning when he allowed a run off a Graysen Tarlow sacrifice fly to drive in Shunsuke Sakaino for the first run of the ball game.

Stultz's afternoon didn’t get any better when, in the bottom of the second, the CSUN offense came out of the gates hot to drive in two more runs thanks to a Joey Kramer double to the left side to drive in Nathan Barraza, and a Andrew Sojka single to the right side to drive in Kramer. An already challenging inning for Stultz and Fullerton got worse when Grayson Tarlow cashed in with a bases-loaded opportunity with two outs. Tarlow homered to deep left field for a grand slam to cap off the second with the Matadors holding a commanding 7-0.

The first three innings for Braun went not only scoreless but also hitless as well, unfortunately for him and the Matadors, the potential no-hitter would go on to end when lead-off batter Moises Guzman for Fullerton hit a double to left field. The potential dream of a shutout also went on to be squashed later on in the top of the fourth when Zach Lew hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Guzman for the first run for the Titans and cut CSUN’s deficit to six.

In the top of the 7th Cole Urman homered to left field to drive in the second run of the game for Fullerton to cut the Matador's lead to 5. Stultz's afternoon would end in the bottom of the inning when right-hander Jason Blood would come in for relief. Stultz would finish with a line of six innings pitched, 7 hits allowed, 6 strikeouts, and 7 earned runs. It didn’t matter to the Matadors who was on the mound, as Ali Camarillo would extend CSUN’s lead back to seven with a two-run home run to left field. Braun's afternoon ended after the 7th, which would finish his stat line at 7 innings pitched, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, and 6 strikeouts.

The Titans wouldn’t go down without a fight going into the final stretch. In the 8th inning they tallied two more runs thanks to Lew hitting a double down the right field line to score Guzman, along with Caden Conner hitting a sacrifice fly to drive in Carter White to make the score 9-4. CSUN would go on to add some insurance in the bottom of the inning and get two runs right back when Tarlow singled up the middle to drive in Sojka and Kevin Fitzer singled to left center to drive in Sakaino. Xavier Martinez came on to pitch in the 8th and would record the final six outs, striking out two along the way to give his team the victory with a final score of 11-4.

Braun would get the win for the Matadors while Tyler Stultz would grab the loss for Fullerton. The star player of the game, Graysen Tarlow finished 2 for 3 for the day and drove in a total of six runs to help his team get the victory. Coach Eddie Cornejo spoke about the importance of this game and the series and the mentality regarding this crucial series, “My message to the players is that it's just another game and we should feel excited about every baseball game… everywhere I have gone and every good coach I have been that they tell me thats the secret sauce and today is no different than San Diego and as long as we treat it that way were under control and we can stay in character we have chance to win.”

The Matadors improve their conference record to 11-5 in the Big West while Cal State Fullerton adds another loss to their own which now sits at 15-4. CSUN was unable to chip away at the Titan's lead in the conference standings when they dropped the second game of the series on Saturday, April 29. Fullerton ensured CSUN wouldn’t gain more than one game on their lead with a dominant 15-1 win at Matador Field. The two teams finish their weekend set on Sunday afternoon.

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