CBB: Gauchos’ win streak snapped in 13th inning

NORTHRIDGE – William Colantono grounded a single just past the outstretched glove of UCSB second baseman Woody Woodward in the bottom of the 13th inning, bringing in Yusuke Akitoshi from third for a 3-2 Cal State Northridge walk-off win over the Gauchos in Sunday’s series finale at Matador Field.

The win for CSUN (21-13, 2-7) spoiled a potential sweep for the Gauchos (26-8, 4-2). The decision snapped a six-game losing streak for the Matadors and a nine-game winning streak for UCSB, the longest for the program since 2004.

At 4 hours and 22 minutes, it was the longest game so far this season for UCSB and the longest for the program since they battled UCLA to a 5-5 tie on Apr. 29, 2014.

The Matadors had actually trailed by a run for most of the game, but down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth, 6-5, 225-pound lefty outfielder Spencer O’Neil entered the game as a pinch hitter and promptly shot the first pitch he saw from UCSB closer Robby Nesovic over the left field fence to tie the game at two runs apiece and send it into extras.

Before walking off in the 13th, CSUN had the game-winning run reach third base in both the 10th and 12th frames, but clutch pitching from lefty reliever Domenic Mazza and strong defense from the Gauchos kept the home team at bay.

Mazza’s best escape act came in the 12th, when Colantono was able to get all the way to third on a sac bunt and wild pitch after singling to lead things off. With just one out and both the infield and outfield playing in, the crafty southpaw induced a lazy pop out from Chester Pak before fanning cleanup hitter Nolan Baumstead on a changeup down in the zone.

With his strong relief outing combined with his shutdown start against No. 8 USC, Mazza threw 10 scoreless innings over the Gauchos’ 3-1 week.

The late CSUN offensive stole a win away from UCSB righty Shane Bieber, who delivered his fifth consecutive quality start in the contest. The Laguna Hills, Calif. native struck out nine while allowing just one run over eight full innings. Bieber got stronger as the contest went along, allowing just a single hit past the fourth inning.

Woodward was the offensive star for the Gauchos on Sunday, collecting a season-high five hits in six turns at bat. Senior right fielder Luke Swenson also went 2-5 in the game and scored both of UCSB’s runs, coming in on a second inning wild pitch and a fourth inning Clay Fisher double.

CSUN’s bullpen combined to throw seven innings of shutout relief, headlined by Angel Rodriguez’s 5 2/3 inning outing. Louis Cohen (2-0) earned the win after striking out Fisher to end the 13th, the only batter he faced in the game.

For the Gauchos, freshman lefty Kyle Nelson (1-1) took the loss after allowing the 13th inning run, which went down as unearned due to a UCSB error two batters prior to the game-winning single.

Andrew Calica singled in the ninth inning, rescuing a trio of impressive offensive streaks. The Gaucho center fielder has now recorded a hit in nine straight and 21 of his last 22 games, and he has now reached base in all 33 contests he has entered this season.

The Gauchos will be back in action next weekend as they return to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium to host Blue-Green rival Cal Poly in a three-game Big West series, starting on Friday at 3 p.m.