NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors return to Big West Conference play this weekend at Matador Field and face a crucial test against the Long Beach State 49ers. The Matadors have a chance to shake up the conference standings as Long Beach State sits in a tie for first with the Cal State Fullerton Titans, who have a bye week. After the weekend series against the 49ers, the Matadors will have four series remaining, all against teams that are currently behind them in the standings. Northridge needs three victories to surpass its 2011 Big West record and seven more to have a better overall record. All three games against the 49ers will feature an Internet-only radio broadcast and will have links for audio and live stats available on GoMatadors.com. Jim Henry, Mark Schuermann and Ryan McEachern will divide the play-by-play and commentary duties this weekend.
Northridge Matadors (17-20, 4-5) vs. Long Beach State 49ers (19-19, 9-3)
Friday, Apr. 27 - 3 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 28 - 1 p.m.
Sunday, Apr. 29 - 1 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Jim Henry, Mark Schuermann, Ryan McEachern
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 competed in one game last week after getting the weekend off from conference play. Northridge had won four out of six heading into the bye weekend and the team picked up right where it left off in its only game of the week, defeating CSU Bakersfield for the second time this season by a score of 5-2 on April 24.
After allowing a run in the top of the first to the Roadrunners, the Matadors were unable to score with bases loaded in both the first and second innings. Northridge was able to break through, however, in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the lead away from CSU Bakersfield. On the first pitch of the inning, Marty Bowen launched a ball over the left field fence for his second home run of the season. Two batters later, Kyle Attl gave the Matadors the lead with a solo home run of his own.
The Roadrunners were able to tie the game in the top of the sixth on a home run as well, but Jerry Keel came in as a relief pitcher later in the inning and struck out both batters he faced to keep the damage at a minimum. Northridge rode the momentum into the bottom half of the sixth and struck for three runs to put distance between the two sides.
Steven Keller homered on the first pitch of the inning for his first four-base hit since a pair of home runs against San Diego on March 1. Bowen followed with a single and Nathan Ring doubled to set up the Matadors for more runs in the inning. Attl brough home Bowen with an RBI single up the middle and Ring scored on a double play ball with the bases loaded.
Louis Cohen pitched the final two innings in relief to close out the win for the Matadors. Keel picked up his fourth win of the year while Cohen was credited with his fourth save. The three home runs in a game were the most for Northridge this season and the win clinched the season series against CSU Bakersfield.
A Closer Look at Long Beach State
The Long Beach State 49ers are currently 19-19 overall and sit in a tie for first place at 9-3 in Big West Conference play. Most recently, the 49ers defeated USC on the road 1-0 and are coming off of a home conference series that saw them take two out of three against UC Irvine. Long Beach State has won three of its last five and is 8-2 over its last 10 games.
The 49ers are led on offense by Brennan Metzger, who is hitting .298 on the season. Metzger is the team leader with 39 hits, 10 doubles and 22 RBIs and is the only player on the team with a home run. Ino Patron is second on the squad with a .284 batting average and has recorded three triples. He has also drawn 21 walks to lead the team and has scored 21 runs.
The Matadors will face pitcher Matt Anderson on Friday afternoon at Matador Field. Anderson is 3-2 on the year with a 2.64 ERA and 44 strikeouts. Shawn Stuart will pitch on Saturday and has a team-low 2.28 ERA among starters and a 5-0 record in nine starts. Ryan Strufing will be on the mound in Sunday's finale and he is currently 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 10 starts this season. After the weekend series with the Matadors, the 49ers will play on May 1 against UCLA in Long Beach.
Heading into the halfway point of the Big West season, the Matadors are staking their claim in numerous Top 10 lists. As a team, Cal State Northridge has a combined batting average of .262. The Matadors have hit the fifth most doubles (56) and are second in the league with 16 home runs. The 317 hits collected are fifth in the conference standings. The team ranks third in the cconference with 44 sacrifice bunts as of April 25. The pitching staff ranks fourth in the Big West with nine saves on the year and tie for third with three complete games.
Junior Brett Balkan has been hit by a pitch 12 times, which rank him second in the conference. Senior Steven Keller checks in tied for sixth with three home runs. Freshman catcher Alexis Mercado ties for eighth in the league as he has caught six runners attempting to steal. Junior Kyle Attl is tied for fourth in the conference as he has helped turn 23 double plays this season and he is also tied for fourth with four home runs and fifth with eight sac bunts.
Individually, juniors Marty Bowen and Nathan Ring sit just on the outside of the list with 15 walks. Freshman Ryan Raslowsky is almost in the Top 10 with six sacrifices. Sophomore outfielder Miles Williams is tied for second in the league with five home runs.He has also drawn 14 walks and his 23 runs scored put him on the cusp of the Big West standings.
A group of Matador pitchers find themselves in the conference rankings as well. Junior Alex Muren is eighth in the conference with 60.0 innings pitched and ties for fifth in the league with five wins on the season.
Freshmen Louis Cohen ties for fourth with four saves and Cole Hallum ties for ninth with teammate Harley Holt with two on the season. Cohen is tied for fifth as he has finished 12 games on the mound for the Matadors and is also tied for first in the league with 20 appearances in 2012. Another freshman, Jerry Keel, is third in the league among starting pitchers with a 2.01 ERA, which puts him 45th in the nation. All Big West statistics are current as of April 25.
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 60.0 innings, leads the staff with 32 strikeouts and has a 4.50 ERA. He also leads the team with five victories on the year.
Where There's a Williams, There's a Way
Sophomore Miles Williams currently has a .255 batting average and leads the squad with 23 runs scored and 20 RBIs after 37 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 and a three-run shot in a win over CSU Bakersfield on April 10.
Junior Cal Vogelsang has found his rythym on both sides of the ball and has climbed the leaderboard in the clubhouse offensively as he is now fourth on the team with a .295 batting average. Vogelsang, who has seen time in both the outfield and at first and second base, leads the squad with 39 hits this season and has Northridge's only triple. He has one home run and 10 RBIs on the year in 36 games played. Vogelsang had at one point a 12 game hitting streak, the longest this season for CSUN, and also has collected the most multiple hit games with 11, including three hits on four occasions.
Junior shortstop Kyle Attl is hitting .228 thus far and had his hit streak stopped at eight games against San Francisco on Mar. 2. In addition to eight sacrifice bunts, which lead the team, Attl ties for a team high with seven doubles and has 19 RBIs while scoring 20 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. He hit a three-run homer at UC Santa Barbara on Apr. 6 to lead the Northridge attack and added home runs in the series finale win against No. 27 Cal Poly and against CSU Bakersfield on April 24. He is currently second on the team with four homers.
The Keel Deal
Freshman left-hander Jerry Keel made a positive impact in his first career appearance over the opening weekend at Sacramento State. Coming in as a reliever, Keel pitched six innings and allowed one run while striking out four hitters. Although he gave up nine hits, Keel consistently worked 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 is 4-1 and has a team-best 2.01 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 2012.
Junior Adam Barry is building on the productive summer season he had last year, as he owns a .284 batting average with seven doubles and 14 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.
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 .264 batting average 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 and ranks seventh on the team with 11 walks. In 30 games this year, Eskelin has a .375 slugging percentage.
Freshman Ryan Raslowsky and redshirt freshman Chester Pak have played key roles in both of Northridge's walkoff victories this season. On April 10 against CSU Bakersfield, Northridge won in the bottom of the ninth as Raslowsky reached on a fielding error that scored Pak. In CSUN's next game, Raslowsky was again at the bat with Pak on third when he chopped a single over the head of the third baseman in the bottom of the 11th as Northridge defeated No. 27 Cal Poly in the first game of a doubleheader on April 14.
Northridge has brought in a number of new faces to the program this year, including four junior transfers. Cal Vogelsang, Brett Balkan, and Dylan Young 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.