CSUN Baseball pull away with Win 15-10 against UC Irvine

CSUN Baseball were looking to climb the standings in the Big West with a weekend series against UC Irvine at home. The Matadors came into the series with a season record of 27-15 and a Big West record of 13-8 and as of Friday, good for fourth place in the Big West, while the Anteaters entered with a season record of 31-14 and a Big West conference record of 12-9, fifth in the conference just behind the Matadors.

Right-hander Lucas Braun took the mound for CSUN with a 4.52 ERA and a 4-4 win-loss record, but found himself in some trouble in the second inning. The Matadors found themselves down 2 runs after Luke Spillane got to Braun quickly with a singled up the middle to drive in Gleed Dub who reached on fielder's choice earlier in the inning. Irvine later loaded the bases and threw a wild pitch that would let Spillane come across home plate for the second run of the inning.

For Irvine, Finnegan Wall would start the game against Braun and the Matadors, entering the contest at 2-1 and a 3.05 ERA. The Matadors would not only tie the game, but take an early lead in the second inning. Mason Le singled right back to Wall to drive in Ali Camarillo for the first run, and Nathan Barraza would go on to single to right field to drive in Jakob Simons. CSUN would take the lead due to a fielder's choice by Cameron Meruicio to drive in Le to take the 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second. The Matadors chased Wall with 5 total runs in the inning as Cooper Robinson was brought on in relief.

Lucan Braun would be unable to keep the three-run Matador lead, surrendering an Anthony Martinez 2-run home run to right field to cut CSUNs’ lead to one. The Matadors would respond by adding another 3 runs in the third inning, which was highlighted by a double hit down the left field foul line by Mercurio that would go on to drive Mason Le. CSUN would conclude the scoring in the third with a sacrifice fly by Shunsuke Sakaino to drive in Barraza for an 8-4 CSUN lead.

Over the next two innings the Matador offense piled on the runs, totalling 13 after five innings. Camarillo drove in one with a single up the middle in the fourth, while in the fifth, Kevin Fitzer launched a 2-run home run to deep left-center to highlight the four runs scored for the Matadors. UC Irvine didn’t go down without a fight, however, as the Anteaters began the top of the sixth with a Caden Kendle single to drive in Spillane. The biggest attack on the Matador lead was a three-run Gleed home run to left field that cut CSUN’s lead back down to four at 13-9.

In the seventh Kevin Fitzer went up to bat and would homer to left field. Irvines’ Dub Gleed would answer back with an RBI single. CSUN would conclude their slugging with a Sakaino RBI single to drive in Mercutio which would finish the scoring at 15-10 for CSUN. In the ninth, Josh Romero would come in to close the game and do so without any worry when he generated a double play for the final 2 outs of the game.

Lucan Braun, despite giving up eight runs, was able record the win, finishing with three strikeouts. Kevin Fitzer hit 2 home runs in the afternoon, while Camron Mercurio went 4-5 with 2 doubles to help the Matadors grab the first win of the series against the Anteaters.

Manager Eddie Cornejo would speak about the intensity of the Irvine series and the need to win by playing fundamental baseball, “Most games in baseball are usually lost by one side and that ends up being difference” he stated, “The more fundamental you are the more chances you give your offense a better position to win.”

CSUN Baseball improved their conference record to 14-8 while Irvine would now fall 2 games behind the matadors in the Big West standings at 12-10. CSUN will now aim to obtain the series win tomorrow Saturday the 13th in the second game of the weekend series with UC Irvine, with the first pitch set to be at 2:00 pm. 

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