CSUN Baseball (14-3) took both games of a doubleheader with the UConn Huskies on Sunday afternoon at Matador Field to push its winning streak to nine games.
CSUN led from start to finish in game one, posting a 12-4 victory over the Huskies. In the afternoon contest, the Matadors rallied to defeat UConn with a two-run eighth inning highlighted by a game-tying solo home run from Branden Berry to post a 2-1 win. Junior Fred Smith continued his hot hitting in the doubleheader, compiling five hits in the two games to extend his hitting streak to 17 games.
The nine-game winning streak is the most consecutive victories since the team won 10 in a row during the 2002 season.
“Branden Berry got better as the day went on. He struggled early but he sat on a pitch late and that’s what got us started,” said head coach Greg Moore. “I like what the dugout is doing. They are working hard and that’s where it begins. They are selfless guys, who are not in the game, working in the dugout to make the team better. The dugout is helping our position players continue to execute. Every time they come into that dugout they will be given information.”
In the opener of the doubleheader, the Matadors took the early lead with single tallies in each of the first two innings. After two hits and a walk loaded the bases with none out in the first, starter William Montgomerie fired a wild pitch that scored the game’s first run. An inning later, Yusuke Akitoshi cashed in on a RBI single after two of the first three reached on singles.
Montgomerie limited the damage over the first three innings, stranding six Matadors but CSUN would get to the right hander over the middle innings.
In the fourth, Justin Toerner forced in a run with two outs by working a bases loaded walk and Nolan Bumstead picked up a clutch two-run double to push the lead to 5-0. CSUN tacked on another run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Smith.
The Matadors would put the game out of reach in the sixth. For the fifth-straight contest, CSUN scored five times in a single frame to build a sizeable advantage. Toerner drove in his second RBI of the game with a single and Dylan Alexander worked a bases loaded walk to make it 8-0. With the bases loaded and one out, Elias Orona roped a single down the left field line to plate two more. Two batters later, Akitoshi brought in another run on a fielder’s choice giving CSUN an 11-0 lead.
Meanwhile, starter Kenny Rosenberg frustrated the UConn bats all game long on the mound. Rosenberg retired 16 of the first 17 batters he faced including 11-straight batters en route to earning the victory. He struck out eight batters in the contest and scattered six hits while allowing three runs in seven innings of work.
Freshman right-hander Ray Diaz worked a scoreless ninth inning including striking out the side in his first career appearance in a CSUN uniform.
In stark contrast to game one, the teams battled in a low-scoring affair in the afternoon contest.
Joe Ryan kept the Huskies hitless through the first three innings and pitched around a pair of hits in the fourth to keep UConn off the scoreboard. On the opposing side, the Huskies’ starter Ronnie Rossomando also pitched effectively, stranding four Matadors on the base paths through four innings.
The game remained scoreless heading to the fifth until UConn finally broke through against Ryan as Troy Stefanski put UConn on top with a sacrifice fly.
Right-hander Conner O’Neil entered in the sixth inning and would hold the Huskies hitless for the remainder of the afternoon. Despite giving up four walks over the last four innings, none of the base runners were able to make it around to score. O’Neil also stranded runners at third base in the seventh and eighth innings.
Trailing by a run in the eighth, the CSUN bats finally came alive with timely hitting. Berry led off the inning with a solo home run to square the game at 1-1. Albee Weiss followed with a single and he would move up to second on a sacrifice bunt from Toerner. After Bumstead singled through the left side to place runners at the corners, Alexander delivered a sacrifice fly to give CSUN its first lead at 2-1.
The Huskies looked to even things up again in the ninth after a Bryan Daniello one-out walk but he would be erased on the base paths after Alexander threw him out attempting to steal second base. O’Neil took it from there and retired the final batter to secure his fourth victory of the season.
The Matadors continue their homestand with a four-game series against Houston Baptist beginning Friday, March 18. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m.