UCLA Baseball Drops Season Opener, 8-6

Jan. 31, 2003

UCLA Baseball dropped its season opener, 8-6 at the hands of the defending Big West Champion Cal State Northridge Matadors.

The Bruins started strong behind the pitching of sophomore left-hander Wes Whisler, who held the Matadors scoreless in the first two innings. UCLA got on the board in the bottom of the second. After a single from catcher Chris Denove, second baseman Preston Griffin hit a two-run home run, his first since 2001.

Still ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning, UCLA bolstered its lead back to two runs when a sacrifice fly from Billy Susdorf brought Ryan McCarthy across home plate who had, singled earlier in the inning.

The Matadors put together a two-run inning in the fourth after Michael Paulk doubled to left center to start the inning.

Even at 3-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, UCLA went ahead again after a McCarthy double started the inning. McCarthy later scored on a Susdorf single.

The Matadors responded once again in the top of the sixth. After singles from Paulk and John Voita, pinch hitter Aaron McKensie hit a three-run home run to put Cal State Northridge ahead, 6-4.

After UCLA was unable to cross the plate in the bottom of the sixth, the Matadors tacked on two more runs in the seventh off reliever Bryan Beck.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Bruins rallied loading the bases after singles from Susdorf and Denove and a walk to Casey Janssen with no outs. Following a Chris Jensen strikeout, Susdorf scored on a wild pitch from Nathan Hochesang. Griffin reached base on another walk and the bases were loaded again with only one out. However, the rally would fall short as pinch hitter Matt Sharp struck out and Matt Thayer flew out to center field.

The Bruin attack was not done however, as Susdorf recorded his third hit of the night with a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Whisler was charged with the loss after allowing four earned runs and striking out four in 5.2 innings of work. Beck matched a career-high with 3.1 innings of action. He allowed two earned runs and struck-out three batters.

Matt Larson notched his first win of the season for the Matadors, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings. Hochesang struckout seven batters in four innings to earn the save.

The teams will be back in action tomorrow at Jackie Robinson Stadium. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.

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