NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors travel to the campus of San Diego State University this weekend for the Aztec Invitational presented by Sheraton Mission Valley. Starting with Thursday afternoon game against the San Diego Toreros, the Matadors will also face the University of San Francisco Dons and the SDSU Aztecs in the event. Thursday's game against USD and Friday's matchup with USF start at 3 p.m. The Matadors will face the Toreros once more on Saturday at 11 a.m. before wrapping up the invitational against the host Aztecs on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Links for radio coverage and live stats for this weekend's games are available at GoMatadors.com, with Kevin Strauss covering the play-by-play from Tony Gwynn Stadium for each game.
Northridge Matadors (5-3) vs. San Diego Toreros (6-2)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - 3 p.m.
Northridge Matadors (5-3) vs. San Francisco Dons (5-3)
Friday, Mar. 2 - 3 p.m.
Northridge Matadors (5-3) vs. San Diego Toreros (6-2)
Saturday, Mar. 3 - 11 a.m.
Northridge Matadors (5-3) at San Diego State Aztecs (3-6)
Sunday, Mar. 4 - 4 p.m.
Tony Gwynn Stadium (3,000) - San Diego, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Kevin Strauss, Play-By-Play
In-game Twitter updates: @CSUNBaseball
Can't Make it Out to the Field?
Follow the Matadors online all season long at GoMatadors.com on your computer or smartphone. A majority of this season's games will feature an Internet radio broadcast provided by Stretch Internet that can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection, including tablet computers, Android products and the Apple iPhone. If you miss a game, you can access the broadcasts on demand for free by clicking the "On Demand" tab in the CSUN audio portal. As a shortcut, fans can open the audio portal by clicking on the headphones icon at the top of any page of GoMatadors.com.
Games this season will also include live stats coverage that can be accessed by clicking the "Live Stats" link on the baseball schedule page. Links to radio coverage (for both teams, if applicable) will also be on the schedule page. As always, game-by-game coverage and news updates can also be found on Twitter by following @CSUNBaseball and @GoMatadors.
Results from Last Week
The Matadors won three out of four games at home last weekend. After the first game of the series against Northwestern was cancelled due to travel delays, the Matadors came out hot in the scheduled doubleheader on Saturday and scored the winning runs in each of their final at bats on the day. Junior Alex Muren pitched a one-hitter in the seven-inning 4-3 win and struck out three batters. Adam Barry went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, including the game-winning single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Tommy Simis singled in two runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 3-3 as Muren retired the final 12 hitters of the game following the lone hit to lead off the fourth inning.
In the second game of the doubleheader, every Matador starter got at least one hit as Northridge rallied to take an 8-7 decision in 11 innings. Doubles by Kyle Attl, Marty Bowen, Barry, Nathan Ring and two for Dylan Young paced the CSUN lineup to 18 hits on the day. Chester Pak singled in the winning run in the 11th after the Matdors tied the game in the bottom of the ninth to sweep the doubleheader and give Louis Cohen the first win of his career.
The Matadors completed the three-game sweep the next day with another 8-7 win led by a 2-for-3 performance by Attl, who scored twice and drove in two runs of his own. Jerry Keel pitched 5.0 innings and struck out three to earn his first win.
On Monday, Northridge welcomed Washington to Matador Field for a one-game set. The Huskies were able to take an 18-7 win in seven innings after the game was called due to a predetermined travel curfew for Washington. Brett Balkan drove in two runs for the Matadors in the defeat.
A Closer Look at The Aztec Invitational
The Matadors face three different programs this weekend at the Aztec Invitational hosted by San Diego State. Northridge will take on the San Diego Toreros on Thursday and Saturday, the San Francisco Dons on Friday, and the host Aztecs on Sunday afternoon. San Diego is currently 6-2 after an 8-5 win at UC Riverside Tuesday night. The Toreros defeated Kansas State, Oregon State and Pacific twice last week and have won five in a row.
On Friday, the Matadors will take on the USF Dons at 3 p.m. Northridge defeated San Francisco last season 3-2 in 10 innings at the YMBL Cardinal Classic hosted by Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. The Dons are currently 5-3 after falling 5-3 on the road at California on Tuesday. They swept a three-game series at home against Missouri last weekend.
Northridge will wrap up the Aztec Invitational on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. against San Diego State. The Matadors lost two out of three to SDSU last season, dropping both on the road after winning 12-9 at Matador Field on Mar. 8. San Diego State is currently 3-6 after losing 3-0 at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday night. The Aztecs have defeated Washington, Oregon State and Pacific at Tony Gwynn Stadium in 2012.
Following the four games in San Diego, the Matadors will return home for a three-game series against the Indiana Hoosiers beginning on Friday, Mar. 9. Northridge will also host the Rhode Island Rams on Mar. 13 and 14 at Matador Field before embarking on an 11 game road trip, the longest of the season, starting at Portland on Mar. 16.
Through the first two weeks of games, a number of Matadors are making their way into the individual conference Top 10 lists. As a team, Cal State Northridge ranks second in the Big West Conference with a team batting average of .296. The Matadors have hit the third most doubles (14) and tie for the conference lead with three home runs. The 75 hits racked up are also second in the conference standings.
Individually, senior Todd Eskelin has cracked the rankings for seven different categories. The West Hills, Calif. native leads the league with a .708 slugging percentage and ranks sixth with a batting average of .417. His .533 on base percentage ties for fourth best and he is tied for third with seven runs scored. He has hit the second most doubles (4), is tied for third in total bases (17) and ties for second with six walks.
Sophomore outfielder Miles Williams is tied for fourth in the Big West with a .593 slugging percentage and ties for the league lead with two home runs. He also is tied for first with four sacrifice bunts and checks in at fifth with 16 total bases. Junior Brett Balkan is tied for fourth with seven RBIs and he has been hit by a pitch three times, which rank him second.
A trio of Matador pitchers find themselves in the conference rankings as well, led by junior Alex Muren. Muren has held opposing hitters to a .111 batting average, good for second in the league. He also ranks sixth in innings pitched (13.2) and ties for the conference lead with two wins on the season. Freshman Jerry Keel comes in at eighth in the Big West among starters with a 1.64 ERA and is tied for second with four strikeouts looking. Freshman Louis Cohen is tied for second as he has finished three games on the mound this year.
Bad Moon Rising
Junior right-hander Alex Muren pitched a one-hitter in CSUN's win over Northwestern in the first game of a doubleheader on Feb. 25. He struck out three in seven innings and retired the final 12 hitters after allowing a single in the fourth. He earned his first victory of the season in Northridge's 6-4 Opening Day win over the Sacramento State Hornets. He pitched 6.2 innings and struck out two on the day, holding opposing hitters to a .167 batting average. Muren, a Ramona, Calif. native, now has compiled a record of 6-2 in his Northridge career and has 43 strikeouts over two-plus seasons.
Where There's a Williams, There's a Way
Sophomore Miles Williams has been a force on both sides of the ball early on in 2012. Williams has a .370 batting average and is second on the team with five RBIs after eight games. In the final game against Sacramento State, Williams blasted a three-run home run off of the third story of the parking structure adjacent to John Smith Field. Against #22 UCLA, Williams showed his defensive prowess as well, throwing out a runner at the plate trying to score in the second inning.
Good to Be Back
Senior outfielder Todd Eskelin has made his presence known as a key piece of the offense through the first two weeks of games. Playing his first significant time since the 2009 season, Eskelin is currently first on the team among starters with a .417 batting average and has four doubles and a home run. His three-run home run against then-#22 UCLA was his first round-tripper since the 2009 season and he is also tied for second on the squad with five RBIs. He has scored seven runs, a team high, and also leads the team with six walks. Through eight games, Eskelin is has compiled an impressive .708 slugging percentage. He is the only Matador with a hit in each game this season.
Junior shortstop Kyle Attl is coming into his own in his third season with the program. He is hitting .290 thus far and has collected a hit in each of the last seven games. In addition to two sacrifice hits, Attl also has two doubles and three RBIs. He drove in his first run of the campaign with an RBI single against then-#22 UCLA in the team's home opener. Known also for his defensive abilities, Attl has also made 20 assists in the infield without an error.
Breathing a Simis of Relief
Junior Tommy Simis is transitioning nicely into his role as the team's starting second baseman. Through eight games this year, Simis is hitting .286 and has recorded a hit in six contests. He has also drawn three walks and been hit by a pitch twice, finding ways to get on base when the Matadors need it. He drove in two runs to tie the game in CSUN's 4-3 win over Northwestern on Feb. 25 and had two hits, including a double, a run scored and an RBI against Washington.
On an Even Keel
Freshman left-hander Jerry Keel made a positive impact on the coaches and fans alike in his first career appearance over the weekend at Sacramento State. Coming into the game as a reliever, Keel pitched six innings and allowed one run while striking out four hitters. Although he gave up nine hits, Keel was able to consistently work out of trouble and forced the Hornets to strand nine runners on base. Keel, originally from Palmdale, Calif., pitched 5.0 innings in the finale against Northwestern on Feb. 26 and allowed one earned run with three strikeouts for the first win of his collegiate career.
Junior Adam Barry is building on the productive summer season he had last year, as he owns a .400 batting average with a double and four RBIs in 2012. After leading his team to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League championship last summer and setting numerous individual league hitting records in the process, Barry was selected as a Third Team Summer Collegiate All-American Team by Perfect Game USA. Originally a football player at the University of Wyoming, Barry has settled nicely into his role on the diamond with the Matadors. With the second-highest batting average among returners (.288), Barry's bat will be important on offense again this season. In 2011, he hit 10 doubles, scored 13 runs and drove in 14 RBIs, while also stealing eight bases in nine attempts. Barry also tied for first in the Big West with a 15-game hitting streak.
Northridge has brought in a number of new faces to the program this year, including four junior transfers. Cal Vogelsang, Brett Balkan, Dylan Young and Harper White all bring in collegiate experience, while CSUN also sees the return of redshirts Louis Cohen and Chester Pak, who sat out their first year in 2011. In addition, the Matadors welcome 12 freshmen to the squad that look to get action in their first season with Northridge. In total, CSUN has added six infielders, six pitchers, three catchers, and an outfielder to give more depth and strength to the program. Many of the rookies on the team this season can also be used in other positions, adding versatility to the lineup as well.
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have a number of prominent programs on the schedule this season in both the non-conference and Big West portions of the calendar. Among featured games on the slate this year include a home-and-home series with perennial power UCLA and CSUN will also welcome Pac-12 contender Washington to Matador Field. Northridge will compete in an invitational at San Diego State and will face the University of San Francisco, an NCAA tournament team in 2011. The Indiana Hoosiers make their first trip to the San Fernando Valley in early March before the Matadors embark on a greuling road trip that includes series at the University of Portland, St. Mary's and preseason No. 25 Cal State Fullerton. In addition to facing the Titans, who hosted a regional in the NCAA tournament in 2011, the Matadors will host the UC Irvine Anteaters, who came within one out of making a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.