If one word describes the Dirtbags’ identity in their two games since the firing of Troy Buckley, it is “fight.” On Saturday, however, the fight came up short as the Dirtbags fell 3-2 to CSUN (16-18, 4-4 Big West) in game two of their weekend series.
“We just couldn’t get that clutch hit,” co-interim head coach Dan Ricabal said.
Dirtbags’ (6-27, 1-4 Big West) junior RHP Nick Avila made his third career start and his first at Blair Field. He was coming off a seven-inning one-hit performance against UC Irvine.
Avila received a rude welcome to Blair Field. With the bases loaded in the top of the second, a two-hopper went to senior first baseman Laine Huffman who dropped the ball forcing him to record the out at first which allowed a run to score.
Northridge’s nine-hitter Denzel Clarke pulled a two run single into right. The Matadors led 3-0 through the top of the second.
“That was a big hit for them,” Ricabal said. “He did a good job of staying with the middle of the field.”
Avila (0-1) settled in later in his outing. He retired eight consecutive batters starting with the second out of the fifth inning. He went a career long seven and one-third innings allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three.
“It definitely helps a little bit if you get punched in the mouth you gotta punch em right back,” Avila said.
Three singles loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning for the Dirtbags. Junior left fielder Aiden Malm attempted to score on a flyout to right but was easily thrown out for the inning-ending double play.
Northridge LHP Isaiah Nunez (6-3) was able to quiet the Dirtbags offense the second time through the lineup. Huffman doubled in the fifth, but a strikeout stranded him. Huffman has four hits in the series.
“Nunez changed speeds, he threw strikes, we had to earn everything,” Ricabal said.
Two singles and a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position for freshman second baseman Tyler Porter in the sixth inning. He shot a single into right center to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Senior center fielder Brooks Stotler singled representing the tying run in the bottom of the ninth, but the rally ended there.
The Dirtbags will attempt their first series win of the season 1 p.m. Sunday in the finale against CSUN at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.