On the back of outstanding pitching and timely hitting, CSUN Baseball (2-2) earned a 3-0 victory at Pepperdine (2-2) on Tuesday afternoon at Eddy D. Field Stadium. Five pitchers combined to toss a six-hit shutout while both Branden Berry and Albee Weiss belted home runs in the victory. Andrew Weston tossed five shutout innings to earn the win and Conner O’Neil recorded his first save of the season.
“Drew set the tone, our plan was to get three or four [innings] out of him but he did a nice job of keeping his pitch count down that we let him stay in to get five,” said head coach Greg Moore. “The hitters did a good job going at bat to at bat. They struggled early but the home runs from Berry and Weiss were signs that they stayed on their plans throughout the day.”
Each team exhibited strong pitching in the early going as neither side could crack the run column through the first four innings.
The Matador defense also kept the Waves off the scoreboard early, turning three double plays through the first four frames. Weston wiggled out of early trouble in the first after he forced Aaron Barnett to ground into a double play after the first two batters reached safely.
In the second inning, Pepperdine threatened with a bases loaded, one-out opportunity against Weston. The Matador sophomore though was able to escape the jam by inducing a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Meanwhile, starter Easton Lucas held CSUN to a pair of hits through the first four innings until the Matadors were able to break through in the fifth.
Branden Berry singled to start the frame and both Justin Toerner and Dylan Alexander drew walks to load the bases with nobody out. Nolan Bumstead followed next with a pinch-hit single through the right side of the infield to give CSUN the 1-0 edge.
A table setter the previous inning, Berry displayed his power in the sixth. The Matador senior belted a two-out solo home run over the left field wall to push the lead to 2-0.
Weston worked his way through the fifth inning, pitching around a leadoff batter reaching in the frame to make way for the bullpen. Joey Deceglie tossed a scoreless sixth including striking out two batters and Angel Rodriguez pitched a shutout frame in the seventh. Rayne Raven started the eighth and got the first two outs of the frame and O’Neil recorded the final out of the inning.
The Matadors added an insurance run in the ninth as Weiss launched a leadoff shot that cleared the left field wall to give CSUN a 3-0 advantage.
O’Neil returned back to the mound in the bottom of the ninth to attempt to seal the win. The junior right-hander would retire the Waves’ side in order to earn his 13th career save. O’Neil has now moved into a third-place tie with Mike Frick (1999-01) for the most saves in CSUN history and he is a save away from tying the school’s all-time career mark.
Berry continues to impress in the early going this season after a 2-for-3 day at the dish. The senior is hitting .545 through the Matadors’ first four games including leading the team in runs (6), hits (6), home runs (3) and batting average.
“The numbers he is putting up are one thing. He is working at first base to make sure that pitchers are where they need to be,” added Moore. “He’s a very vocal person who is making a difference for pitchers and catchers. In his own way, he’s running the infield from first base.”
The Matadors return home for the start of a four-game series against visiting Northern Colorado beginning on Friday at Matador Field. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.