April 4, 2012

Matadors Visit UC Santa Barbara, Host CSU Bakersfield This Week

Complete Weekly Release in PDF Format

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors continue Big West Conference competition this week with a trip to UC Santa Barbara to take on the Gauchos. The Matadors took the season series 3-2 against the Gauchos, including two out of three in Big West play at Matador field. The series will be played from Thursday to Saturday with first pitch on Thursday scheduled for 3 p.m. Following the series at Santa Barbara, the Matadors will return home to face the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners on Apr. 10 at 3 p.m. All games this week will have live stats coverage and the series at UC Santa Barbara will include a radio broadcast accessible from the schedule page at GoMatadors.com.

GAMES #29-31: Northridge Matadors (12-16, 1-2 Big West)
at UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (14-13, 2-1 Big West)

Thursday, Apr. 5 - 3 p.m.
Friday, Apr. 6 - 3 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 7 - 1 p.m.
Caesar Uyesaka Stadium (1,000) - Santa Barbara, Calif.

Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com

Audio: Kevin Strauss, Play-By-Play
In-game Twitter updates: @CSUNBaseball

GAME #32:

Northridge Matadors vs. CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (12-15)

Tuesday, Apr. 10 - 3 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com

Audio: TBD, Check Schedule for Updated Information
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 opened up the Big West Conference portion of their schedule last week with a three-game series at then-No. 13 Cal State Fullerton. After dropping the first two games in the set, Northridge rebounded to take the finale and salvage the series. Following the series in Fullerton, Northridge returned home for the first time since March 14. The Matadors lost a close decision to Loyola Marymount 10-6 to fall to 1-3 on the week heading into this weekend's action at UC Santa Barbara. With a win against the Titans on April 1, CSUN got its first victory over a ranked opponent since last May (5-4 over then-No. 9 Cal State Fullerton on May 27).

Against Cal State Fullerton on Friday, Mar. 30, the Matadors fell behind 7-0 before scoring a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to break up the shutout. Nathan Ring had a pinch hit RBI double in the top of the ninth and later scored on an error. On Saturday, Northridge trailed 5-0 before scoring four runs in the fourth inning, but ultimately fell 8-6. Ring had a pair of RBIs and Cal Vogelsang hit the first CSUN triple of the season in the loss.

The Matadors rebounded and were able to take care of business against the Titans on Sunday, Apr. 1 as freshman lefty Jerry Keel pitched a complete game and scattered nine hits in a 5-1 victory. Northridge scored four runs in the third inning as Vogelsang and Adam Barry each had RBIs and Miles Williams hit a two-run home run. Northridge returned home on Tuesday, Apr. 3 against Loyola Marymount but fell 10-6. The Matadors scored six runs in the sixth but could not complete the rally needed to overcome the deficit.

A Closer Look at UC Santa Barbara
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos enter the weekend with a record of 14-13 and a mark of 2-1 in the Big West Conference after taking two out of three games at home last weekend against UC Riverside. Most recently, the Gauchos dropped a decision to CSU Bakersfield at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

Greg Mahle leads the Gauchos on offense with a .407 batting average in 25 games. He has 20 runs batted in and three extra-base hits, all doubles. Brett Vertigan is hitting .387 and has started every game this year for UCSB. Vertigan has driven in 16 runs with nine doubles and a team-high five triples on the year.

Northridge will face Andrew Vasquez, who is 4-2 with a team-best 1.26 ERA, in the series opener. Vasquez has collected 55 strikeouts and has allowed just six earned runsin 43.0 innings. The Matadors will go against Austin Pettibone (4-2, 5.09 ERA) on Friday and Zak Edgington (1-1, 2.53 ERA) in the finale on Sunday. UCSB will host Cal Poly in a midweek non-conference game on April 10 following the series with CSUN.

A Closer Look at CSU Bakersfield
Following the series at UC Santa Barbara, the Matadors will return home for a non-conference game against the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners on Tuesday, Apr. 10 at Matador Field. The Roadrunners are 12-15 entering the week and will host Santa Clara this weekend before playing Northridge.

The Roadrunners are led offensively by Oscar Sanay, who is batting .369 with three doubles and nine RBIs this year. Sanay also ties for the team lead with five stolen bases and is the leader in the clubhouse with 18 runs scored. Frank Martinez is hitting .351 in 14 games and has two home runs and six runs batted in.

On the mound, Spenser Messmore is 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA and has 24 strikeouts on the season. Taylor Aikenhead is 5-3 in eight starts and has a 3.67 ERA with 27 strikeouts, which tie for the team lead.

Conference Chatter
With the Big West Conference portion of the schedule underway, the Matadors are staking their claim in numerous Top 10 lists. As a team, Cal State Northridge ranks eighth in the Big West Conference with a combined batting average of .256. The Matadors have hit the fourth most doubles (40) and are second in the league with 10 home runs. The 232 hits collected are sixth in the conference standings. The team ranks 15th in the nation with 37 sacrifice bunts as of April 1.

Individually, junior Marty Bowen ties for eighth with 13 walks and fifth with five sac bunts. Sophomore outfielder Miles Williams ties for second in the league with four home runs. He is tied for eigth with Bowen in the conference with 13 walks.

Junior Brett Balkan has been hit by a pitch 12 times, which rank him first in the conference and tie for 15th in the nation. Senior Steven Keller checks in tied for sixth with two home runs. Freshman catcher Alexis Mercado ties for fourth in the league as he has caught six runners attempting to steal this season. Junior Kyle Attl is tied for first in the conference as he has helped turn 17 double plays this season.

A group of Matador pitchers find themselves in the conference rankings as well. Junior Alex Muren is third in the conference with 48.2 innings pitched and leads the league with five wins on the season, which are good for a tie for 19th in the country. His two complete games tie for 22nd in all of Division I baseball.

Freshmen Louis Cohen and Cole Hallum are tied for fifth in the Big West Conference with two saves on the season and Cohen is fifth as he has finished eight games on the mound for the Matadors. Cohen is also second in the league with 14 appearances in 2012. Another freshman, Jerry Keel, is third in the league among starting pitchers with a 1.49 ERA, good for 35th in the NCAA.

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. Against San Diego at the SDSU Aztec Invitational on Mar. 3, he struck 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. He threw his first nine-inning complete game in a victory over St. Mary's on Mar. 23, striking out a career-high six hitters. Muren has pitched a team-high 48.2 innings, leads the staff with 24 strikeouts and is third on the team with a 3.88 ERA.

Where There's a Williams, There's a Way
Sophomore Miles Williams currently has a .270 batting average and leads the squad with 18 runs scored and 17 RBIs after 28 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. At LMU on Mar. 20, Williams drove in two runs and now has four multi-RBI games. He also hit a two-run home run at #13 Cal State Fullerton in Northridge's win on April 1.

Good to Be Back
Senior outfielder Todd Eskelin has made his presence known through the first half of the season. Playing his first significant time since 2009, Eskelin currently has a .279 batting average that ranks fifth on the team and has five 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 eight RBIs this year. He has scored 12 runs, good for fourth on the team, and ties for third on the team with 11 walks. In 24 games this year, Eskelin has a .397 slugging percentage.

Attl Boy!
Junior shortstop Kyle Attl is coming into his own in his third season with the program. He is hitting .202 thus far and had his hit streak stopped at eight games (tied for the team high), against San Francisco on Mar. 2. In addition to four sacrifice bunts, Attl also has five doubles and 10 RBIs and has scored 16 runs. 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. Attl went 2-for-3 at LMU on Mar. 20 and drove in a run while scoring two in the 12-1 victory.

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 pitched his first complete game for CSUN in a victory over then-No. 13 Cal State Fullerton on April 1, scattering nine hits and not allowing a run after the bottom of the first. For his work in the game, Keel was named as a Primetime Performer of the week by Collegiate Baseball 360, one of 16 players in the nation to earn the recognition. Keel has a team-best 1.49 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 2012.

Barry Nice
Junior Adam Barry is building on the productive summer season he had last year, as he owns a team-high .324 batting average with six doubles and 12 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 went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the win at LMU on Mar. 20.

Rookie Report
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.

Scheduling Story
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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