Matadors Face Rhode Island, Travel to Portland this Week

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

Northridge Take on Rams, Renew Rivalry with Pilots
The Cal State Northridge Matadors host the Rhode Island Rams for a two-game midweek series before traveling to the Pacific Northwest to face the Portland Pilots this weekend. The Matadors and Rams have only met once before on the diamond, a 19-0 Northridge win at the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic at Fresno State in 1997. Northridge and Portland have not played each other since the 2008 season and the Pilots have won the last two in the series. Live stats and radio links for this week's games will be available at GoMatadors.com. Kevin Strauss will handle play-by-play duties during the Matadors' trip to Portland.

GAMES #16-17:

Northridge Matadors (8-7) vs. Rhode Island Rams (4-8)

Tuesday, Mar. 13 - 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - 3 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com

Audio: None
In-game Twitter updates: @CSUNBaseball

GAMES #18-20:

Northridge Matadors (8-7) at Portland Pilots (10-2)

Friday, Mar. 16 - 3 p.m.
Saturday, Mar. 17 - 1 p.m.
Sunday, Mar. 18 - 1 p.m.
Joe Etzel Field (1,000) - Portland, Ore.

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 bounced back from a tough weekend in San Diego at the beginning of March to take two out of three games against the Indiana Hoosiers at Matador Field last week. After losing the first game on Friday, Mar. 9, Northridge was able to take the final two to win its third straight three-game series to open the season. Indiana took the opener 7-3 after the Matadors put across three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Adam Barry went 3-for-3 with an RBI double and reached base a total of five times as he also walked and was hit by a pitch. Marty Bowen and Tommy Simis also had multiple hits in the game for Northridge.

Northridge fought back to take the second game of the series and capitalized on seven Indiana errors on the day. After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first, the Matadors were able to tie the game in the third and broke things open with a five-run fourth inning. Northridge led by as many as nine runs at 12-3 and a late two-run home run for Indiana could not fuel a comeback. Barry added three RBIs to his weekend total and also stole a base. Nathan Ring went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases, Miles Williams added two RBIs and Alex Muren pitched 7.0 innings with three strikeouts for the win.

In the rubber match of the series on Sunday, Mar. 11, freshman left-hander Jerry Keel pitched seven strong innings of two-hit baseball but ultimately did not get a decision. Bowen opened the scoring for the Matadors with a solo home run in the bottom of the second and Northridge took a 2-0 lead before Indiana tied it in the eighth. Northridge scored three runs in the eighth and held off the Hoosiers in the ninth for a 5-3 victory. Louis Cohen collected his second win of the season and Cole Hallum picked up his second save. Williams, Bowen, Simis and Brett Balkan each had two hits in the game.

A Closer Look at Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Rams will make their first ever trip to Matador Field for two games this week. Northridge and Rhode Island will play on Tuesday, Mar. 13 and Wednesday, Mar. 14 at 3 p.m. The Rams enter the week with a 4-8 record and have lost six in a row after winning four straight over William and Mary, the College of Charleston, Xavier and Connecticut.

Jeff Cammans leads the team with seven RBIs in 12 games and has compiled a .267 batting average. Pat Fortunato is hitting .302 with a team-high 10 runs scored and 13 hits, including five doubles. Mike LeBel has a team-high .538 average and has stolen three bases in five games this year.

Anthony Pisani has started two games on the mound for the Rams and is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 11.0 innings. The other Rhode Island wins belong to Chris Pickering and Kevin Lee who are each 1-3 in four starts on the season.

A Closer Look at Portland
Following the midweek series against Rhode Island, the Matadors will travel to Portland for three games against the Pilots. Portland is currently 10-2 on the season and will play on Tuesday, Mar. 13 at Washington before the Matadors head to town.

Kris Kauppila leads the Portland offense in batting average (.375), runs (9), hits (18) and RBIs (10) and ties for the team lead with a triple, a stolen base and two home runs. Brian Frattali is hitting .349 in 12 games, has one home run and eight RBIs.

On the mound, Travis Radke leads the staff with a team-low 1.35 ERA among starters and has a 3-0 record in four starts with 22 strikeouts. Matt McCallister has a 1.80 ERA with a 2-0 record in three appearances this year.

Portland is a perfect 7-0 in home games in 2012 and will host Hawaii for one game following the series with the Matadors.

Conference Chatter
Through the first month of games, a number of Matadors are making their way into the individual conference Top 10 lists. As a team, Cal State Northridge ranks tied for second in the Big West Conference with a combined batting average of .283. The Matadors have hit the sixth most doubles (23) and are tied for the conference lead with seven home runs. The 139 hits collected are also fifth in the conference standings. The team ranks in a tie for ninth in the country with 16 sacrifice bunts as of Mar. 7.

Individually, senior Todd Eskelin is tied for tenth in the Big West for doubles (4) and tied for eighth with eight walks. Sophomore outfielder Miles Williams is sixth in the league with a .547 slugging percentage and 10th with a .435 on base percentage. Williams also ties for the league lead with three home runs. He is tied for ninth with 11 RBIs, 10th with 29 total bases and sixth with four sacrifice bunts.

Junior Brett Balkan has been hit by a pitch seven times, which rank him in a tie for first in the conference and tie for 27th in the nation. Senior Steven Keller checks in tied for fourth with two home runs. Freshman catcher Alexis Mercado ties for second in the league as he has caught six runners attempting to steal this season. Junior Tommy Simis is tied for the league lead as he has helped turn 11 double plays this season.

A group of Matador pitchers find themselves in the conference rankings as well. Junior Alex Muren is tied for eighth in the conference with 25.2 innings pitched and ties for the conference lead with three wins on the season. Freshmen Louis Cohen and Cole Hallum are tied for second in the Big West Conference with two saves on the season and Cohen is tied for fourth as he has finished five games on the mound for the Matadors. Another freshman, Jerry Keel, is sixth in the league among starting pitchers with a 2.01 ERA.

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. Against San Diego at the SDSU Aztec Invitational on Mar. 3, he matched his career high by striking out five batters in five innings of work. Muren then went 7.0 innings with three strikeouts in a win over Indiana on Mar. 10. Muren has pitched a team-high 25.2 innings and is second on the team with 13 strikeouts.

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 is third on the team with a .340 batting average, leads the squad with 11 runs scored and is the team leader with 11 RBIs after 15 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. In the final game of the SDSU Aztec Invitational at San Diego State, he hit a three-run home run with two outs in the top of the ninth. Williams is the only Matador to reach base in all 15 games this season.

Good to Be Back
Senior outfielder Todd Eskelin has made his presence known through the first 15 games of the season. Playing his first significant time since 2009, Eskelin currently has a .300 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 also has five RBIs this year. He has scored nine runs, tied for third on the team, and ties for the team lead with eight walks. In 13 games this year, Eskelin has a .475 slugging percentage and has reached base in all but two games this season.

Attl Boy!
Junior shortstop Kyle Attl is coming into his own in his third season with the program. He is hitting .233 thus far and had his hit streak stopped at eight games (tied for a team high), against San Francisco on Mar. 2. In addition to two sacrifice bunts, Attl also has four doubles and five RBIs. He drove in his first run of the campaign with an RBI single against then-#22 UCLA in the team's home opener. Attl also had a double in the win against San Diego on Mar. 1 at the SDSU Aztec Invitational. In the Mar. 10 win over Indiana, he went 2-for-5 at the plate and scored four runs, two shy of tying the all-time mark for a single game in Northridge history. He has reached base in 12 games this year and has also collected multiple hits on three separate occassions.

Breathing a Simis of Relief
Junior Tommy Simis is transitioning nicely into his role as the team's starting second baseman. Through 15 games this year, Simis is hitting .304 and has recorded a hit in 12 contests, including five multi-hit games. He has also drawn four 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. Simis also went 2-for-5 with an RBI in the game against San Francisco on Mar. 2 at the SDSU Aztec Invitational.  Against Indiana, Simis had two multi-hit games and drove in a run while starting at first base for the final two games.

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 opening 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. He earned a start against San Diego State on Mar. 4 and struckout three in 4.1 innings and allowed just two hits in seven innings on the mound in the team's win over Indiana on Mar. 11.

Barry Nice
Junior Adam Barry is building on the productive summer season he had last year, as he owns a team-high .480 batting average among starters with three doubles and eight RBIs. 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. In the series against Indiana (Mar. 9-11), Barry went 5-for-9 with four RBIs and two runs scored. He currently has a seven game hitting streak.

Scheduling Story
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.

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