NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — Kyle Ferramola, a pitcher inserted into the designated hitter role for the first time Friday to inject some power, did just that in Cal State Northridge’s 5-4 win in the second game of a doubleheader sweep of Utah Valley Saturday afternoon.
In his second career start, Ferramola hit two solo home runs, including a shot that proved to be the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth after Utah Valley (9-15) had tied the game with two runs in the top half of the inning.
Northridge (9-12) took a 2-0 lead in the third inning, spurred by a Houdini act by Ryan Raslowsky after he was caught in a rundown between third base and home. Raslowsky went wide avoiding Utah Valley’s tag attempt and was called safe by umpire Johnny Pineda, much to the dismay of the Wolverines’ coaches, players and fans.
The Wolverines tied the game with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but Raslowsky hit a leadoff triple in the fifth and scored on a Kyle Attl single. Ferramola hit his first collegiate home run in the sixth inning. He initially received the silent treatment from his teammates after returning to the dugout, before they erupted in celebration.
Utah Valley tied the game again in the eighth inning with the help of two walks and two passed balls, but Ferramola’s second bomb pushed the Matadors ahead for good.
In the first game, Northridge took another one-run contest, 4-3, as it held off a late rally by the Wolverines in the sixth inning of a scheduled seven inning contest. Utah Valley loaded the bases with one out and scored a pair of runs on a walk and an errant throw.
Reliever Michael Coates was brought in to put out the fire. After allowing a run on a wild pitch on his initial offering, Coates stranded the tying and go-ahead runs with an infield pop and groundout. He turned the ball over to Josh Goossen-Brown, who collected the first of his two saves on the day, with a hitless seventh inning.
The Game Changer:
Besides the insertion of Ferramola into the Northridge lineup in the second game, the biggest Game Changer of the day came in the first game when the turf monster twice tackled the Wolverines. The Matadors scored their first run of the day when Nate Ring “singled” to right field with two on and two out. Ring hit a routine fly ball to right field, but as Riley White ran to the ball, he slipped and before he could get to his feet, the ball bounced less than five feet in front of him.
Two innings later, the turf monster struck again. After Kyle Attl executed a perfect hit-and-run to put runners on the corners, Josh Goossen-Brown laid down a safety squeeze. The ball rolled less than halfway to the mound and as pitcher Adam Gunn approached the ball, he stumbled and fell to a knee, over the ball. By the time Gunn regained his balance and grabbed the ball, he had no play on the runner coming home or on Goosen-Brown.
A fielder’s choice and a stolen base by Ring put runners on second and third. Chester Pak delivered a two-out, two-run single to right field to put the Matadors ahead 4-0. Without some turf monster assistance, Northridge wouldn’t have scored in the first inning and Pak would never have come to the plate in the third inning.
Cal State Northridge hero Kyle Ferramola talks about his journey into the lineup and the energy he has brought to the team:
Matadors head coach Matt Curtis discusses his team’s doubleheader sweep of Utah Valley, the unexpected performance of Ferramola and the importance of Goossen-Brown:
Senior Josh Goossen-Brown on getting two saves in a single day. He also talks about how he feels his hitting is coming around and the incredible day of Ferramola:
- Kai Hatch – 2-for-4, R
Cal State Northridge
- Josh Goossen-Brown – 2-for-3, RBI; IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, Save
- Nate Ring – 1-for-3, R, RBI, SB
- Chester Pak – 1-for-3, 2 RBI
- Mark Krueger – 3-for-4, R, 2B, BB
- Willie Pratt – 1-for-2, R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Cal State Northridge
- Kyle Ferramola – 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI
- Ryan Raslowsky – 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, 3B, BB, 2 SB
- Kyle Attl – 2-for-3, R, RBI, 2 BB
- Brandon Warner – 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, K
The Bottom Line:
After starting the season 5-1, Cal State Northridge dropped 11 of its next 13, including nine games by three runs or less, entering this weekend. Collecting its first two one-run wins of the season while collecting a series win (with the potential of a series sweep still possible) is a huge boost for Northridge.
The Matadors don’t open the conference schedule until next Thursday at Long Beach State and proving they can win close games after so many tight losses will only help the team’s confidence heading into Big West play. After starting 9-12, Northridge will have to excel in the conference for any chance at getting to a regional. But if they can complete the sweep against an overmatched Utah Valley squad and possibly get a win Tuesday when they host San Diego, the Matadors will be riding high entering the all-important second season.
The potential emergence of Kyle Ferramola as another power threat in the lineup could make it dangerous, especially if Josh Goossen-Brown’s two hits in the first game get him going after the Matadors clean-up hitter started the game batting .194. Despite his poor average, Goossen-Brown has still been one of the team’s more productive hitters, driving in 10 runs — second on the team behind Miles Williams.
Though he still is prone to chase good breaking balls, Williams has made improvements from last season when he struck out in 31 percent of his at bats. His walk rate is down from last season, but what’s important is that Williams is being more productive. His slugging percentage is up nearly 100 points as he’s already tied his home run total (6) of last season and with 23 runs driven in, he’s only three RBI shy of his 2012 tally.
Kyle Attl and Nate Ring are both hitting above .300 and with his two extra-base hits, Ryan Raslowsky is up to .286. If the second base combination of Raslowsky and Michael Livingston, along with Attl can get on base in front of Williams, Goossen-Brown and Ring, Northridge’s lineup can be formidable.
This isn’t a team of slugging top prospects like Cal State Fullerton. The players should embrace that and play with a chip on their shoulder. Ferramola has injected the team with a short-term energy boost, but playing with a grudge can continue to carry that energy and emotion. Seven of the Matadors’ twelve losses have come against Pac-12 teams. They are prepared for the Big West competition. They just have to carry the momentum from this series win forward.
Utah Valley knew this season would be a rebuilding campaign after losing two weekend starters and six of its top seven hitters on a squad that won 47 games. Its record isn’t good, but like Northridge, Utah Valley has lost a number of close games — dropping eight games by three runs or less, including five one-run losses.
The Wolverines are also road warriors, having played all but three games away from chilly Orem, Utah. They have won series at the West Coast Conference’s Portland and St. Mary’s while splitting a mid-week trip to defending national champion Arizona. Though it’ll likely be on the outside, looking in come NCAA tournament time, Utah Valley should once again dominate the Great West Conference after going unblemished in conference play last season.