LOS ANGELES, CA—CSUN Baseball (21-8) completed the season series sweep of the UCLA Bruins (12-14) on Tuesday night with a 4-1 victory at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Albee Weiss finished 2-for-4 with a run batted in while Branden Berry went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Freshman right-hander Ray Diaz earned his first career victory while the CSUN pitching staff combined to limit UCLA to three hits.
With the win, CSUN secured its first season series sweep of the Bruins since 1998 and its first season series victory since the 2002 campaign.
“It’s nice to get a win,” said head coach Greg Moore. “I’m thinking about practice tomorrow. We need to show up ready to work. Getting a win shouldn’t, but it can, soften the approach. After a few losses, this group was close to practicing at a new level. What we do tomorrow as a team is what matters.”
In contrast to the first meeting between the two teams in March when CSUN posted a 20-12 win, both sides battled in a low scoring affair on Tuesday.
Andrew Weston started the contest and pitched two clean innings, surrendering no hits and just one walk. In the third, Diaz picked up right where Weston left off by tossing two scoreless innings of his own, fanning three batters and allowing no hits.
UCLA starter Jake Bird quieted the CSUN bats through three frames but the Matadors would finally break through against the right-hander in the middle innings.
In the fourth, CSUN recorded the game’s first run thanks to solid execution at the plate. Yusuke Akitoshi started the rally with a one-out single up the middle and he would steal second base on the very next pitch to get into scoring position. After Branden Berry sacrificed Akitoshi to third base, Justin Toerner came through with an RBI single to center.
An inning later, CSUN added another run on two hits to build a 2-0 edge. Nolan Bumstead led off the frame with a single and Dylan Alexander followed with a double off the top of the wall in left field. With both runners in scoring position, Bird delivered a wild pitch, allowing Bumstead to race home.
The Matadors kept up its hot hitting in the sixth inning against the UCLA pitching staff. With Bird still on the mound, Akitoshi walked to lead off the inning and Berry singled through the left side moments later. After the Bruins went to their bullpen, Weiss brought home the Matadors’ third run on the night with a single into left center field. Two batters later, Berry touched home plate on a passed ball that skated past Daniel Rosica’s glove.
Meanwhile, the Matador pitching staff continued to be outstanding on the mound. Following a shutout frame from Nick Viola in the fifth, the CSUN staff took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Samuel Myers entered the fray in the bottom of the sixth and gave up the first hit of the day to Brett Stephens, but he rallied to retire two of the next three to preserve the 4-0 lead.
Myers pitched around a two-out walk in the seventh to post another scoreless inning but the Bruins finally broke up the shutout an inning later. Brett Urabe doubled and later scored on an Eric Filia sacrifice fly to trim the CSUN advantage to 4-1.
Closer Conner O’Neil got the final out in the eighth inning and returned back out to attempt a four-out save in the last of the ninth. Luke Persico drew a walk to start off the frame but O’Neil snuffed out the rally by forcing Christoph Bono to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. After a two-out walk kept the inning alive, O’Neil struck out pinch hitter Jake Pries to end the game.
Berry continued his streak of reaching base safely on Tuesday with his two hits. The senior has now reached in each of the last 21 games.
“It was a staff day. The bullpen did a nice job,” added Moore. “Ray Diaz pounded the zone early. That set the tempo for the rest of the day. Nick Viola is getting better each time out in relief. Andrew Weston started the game and threw strikes. It took everyone.”
The Matadors resume its Big West Conference schedule with a three-game home series against Long Beach State beginning Friday afternoon at Matador Field. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m.