Zach Bargeron, making his first start of the season and 10th of his career, retired his first nine batters faced, eight on groundouts, in a workmanlike outing. The senior pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits with no walks and a strikeout. He departed with a 3-1 lead, which held up well under Tezak, who threw 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing just one run on three hits with three strikeouts. But the righthander almost lost his decision when CSUN loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth against Pascal Paul. WVU's best reliever hit a batter to make it a one-run game before striking out pinch hitter Michael Livingston to give the Mountaineers their seventh win in eight games.
Bargeron had four appearances this season – and a whopping 8.10 ERA – but had combined for just 3 1/3 innings of relief prior to this performance. He was excellent the first time through the order, and pitched his final four outs with a lead after the Mountaineers (9-5) broke the game open in the fourth with three of their 11 hits. WVU failed to record an extra base hit, but appeared to have no fear of Northridge catcher Dylan Alexander, stealing five bases, including a key double steal in the third that put it ahead 2-0. Jerry Keel (0-4) took the loss for the Matadors, who have now lost seven of eight.
The 3rd inning started was the downfall for Keel as Ryan McBroom, again hitting cleanup, and Rice reached on a walk and single, respectively. O'Brien then singled to center to plate McBroom and break the scoreless tie. Rice and O'Brien, who each went 2-for-4 to lead WVU, then pulled off the double steal, with Rice scoring from second on a throwing error by Alexander. Max Nogay followed with a single up the middle for a 3-0 lead, and the Mountaineers had an advantage they would never surrender. WVU was running at will by this point, and Nogay quickly swiped second for the third steal of the inning and fourth of five for the game. Cody Semler reached on a walk, and it looked like West Virginia might put the game away early only to see the threat end when Taylor Munden lined out to his counterpart at short.
The junior was removed from the game at that point, as Michael Constantini entered and assumed Munden's leadoff spot in the line-up. Munden and third baseman Justin Fox were the only WVU position players with an official at-bat not to record a hit, as eight different players amassed singles.
Bargeron got into immediate trouble in the bottom half of the inning, giving up consecutive doubles as Northridge pulled within 3-1. The lefty then got a strikeout and groundout before loading the bases on a single and catcher's interference. Alexander once again hurt Northridge, flying out to right field on a 2-0 pitch to end the threat. But the 4th inning issues proved only a harbinger of things to come for Bargeron, who allowed a pair of singles around a sac bunt to put runners on the corners with one out in the 5th. He got the hook at that point, as Ryan Hostrander entered to face leftfielder Nick Blaser, the two-hitter. He immediately picked off Ryan Raslowsky at first, then threw a wild pitch as William Colantono scored from third for a 3-2 game. Blaser struck out swinging to end the inning. Ryan Tezak entered in the 6th and essentially shut down Northridge until the ninth.
WVU picked up two runs in the 7th, when the Mountaineers chased Keel with a single and walk before a fielder's choice put runners at the corners with one out. Billy Fleming singled on the first pitch from reliever Anthony Cortez for a 4-2 lead, and the Mountaineers tacked on their fifth run two batters later on a Rice single to center. Keel, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, was responsible for both runs as he allowed five total, four earned, with four walks and two strikeouts in falling to 0-4. Paul picked his second save for West Virginia, which played its seventh game in the state of California this season. Raslowsky and Blaser combined for five of CSUN's nine hits. WVU left 11 on base; CSUN left 8.
Staff ace Harrison Musgrave will start on Friday. Musgrave has a 3-0 record with a 1.78 ERA in four starts. He has struck out a team-leading 33 batters in 25.1 innings. Saturday's starter is to be determined. Cal State Northridge will start righty Brycen Rutherford on Friday and righty Jordan Johnson on Saturday. Rutherford (1-2) has a 1.61 ERA in four starts with 17 strikeouts in 28 innings and Johnson (2-1) has a 1.98 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 27.1 innings in four starts.