May 3, 2012

Matadors Open Second Half of Big West Season at UC Riverside

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors will open up the second half of conference play this week with a three-game road series at UC Riverside. The Matadors and Highlanders are separated by just one game in the Big West standings at the halfway mark and Northridge will look to continue to climb the ladder with a series win at UCR. With 13 games remaining on the schedule, including 12 conference games, the Matadors need two wins to surpass last year's conference total and six to improve on the overall record from 2011. All three games this weekend in Riverside will include live stats coverage provided by UC Riverside. The series will also mark the Northridge debut of a radio supercast, with Kevin Strauss (Northridge) and Ghizal Hasan (Riverside) splitting play-by-play duties as each brings experience from their respective programs to the broadcast to give fans a complete perspective on the game and the student-athletes.

GAMES #41-43:

Northridge Matadors (18-22, 5-7) at UC Riverside Highlanders (15-24, 4-8)

Friday, May 4 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 5 - 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 6 - 1 p.m.
Riverside Sports Complex (2,500) - Riverside, Calif.

Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com

Audio:
Kevin Strauss (Northridge) and Ghizal Hasan (UC Riverside)
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 returned to Big West play last weekend after a win over CSU Bakersfield on April 24. Northridge hosted the Long Beach State Dirtbags, who came into the series as the top team in the conference. After dropping the first game in the series, Northridge won the Saturday meeting in extra innings before losing the finale and finishing the first half of the Big West season at 5-7.

After tying the first game of the series at 2-2 following a two-run double by Cal Vogelsang, the Matadors could not hold the momentum as the Dirtbags scored four times in the top of the sixth to create space. Long Beach State scored two more times in the ninth inning for insurance as the Matadors dropped the series opener 8-2 on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday, the Dirtbags ran into a wall offensively in the form of Northridge starter Jerry Keel, who allowed just one run over seven innings. Adam Barry hit his first home run as a Matador in the bottom of the third inning and Northridge led by as much as 3-1 late in the contest before Long Beach State was able to tie the game. After Keel was lifted from the game, the Dirtbags scored twice in the eighth and once in the ninth to take the lead.

Vogelsang and Miles Williams helped the Matadors send the game to extra innings as Vogelsang singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Williams then singled off of the top of the wall in left field to bring home the run. After Long Beach scored a run in the 12th, the Matadors plated two in the bottom half to win as Nathan Ring stole third and scored the winner.

In Sunday's finale, the Matadors were able to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first but had a tough time containing the Long Beach offense the rest of the way. The Dirtbags scored nine runs between the fourth and sixth innings to take a commanding lead and ultimately win the series. Vogelsang was a bright spot for Northridge, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

A Closer Look at UC Riverside
The UC  Riverside Highlanders begin the second half of the conference season with an overall record of 15-24 and a mark of 4-8 in Big West games. They currently sit a game behind the Matadors in the standings and are coming off of a midweek series that they split on the road at UNLV. The Highlanders have won four of their last five games at home, including a series win over UC Davis.

Vince Gonzalez leads the team on offense with a .351 batting average and has started all but one game for UC Riverside. He has a team-high 19 RBIs and also leads the squad with 52 hits and eight doubles. Eddie Young is batting .301 this year in 39 games with 17 RBIs and 22 runs scored. Both Phil Holinsworth and David Andriese have two home runs on the year to pace the Highlanders.

The Matadors will face starters Eddie Orozco, Trevor Frank and Dylan Stuart this weekend in Riverside. Orozco, the Friday night starter, is 4-5 on the year with a 2.30 ERA in 70.1 innings. He has thrown three complete games and also leads the way with 73 strikeouts. Frank will pitch Saturday and is 1-5 with a 4.01 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. Stuart will start the finale on Sunday and is 4-6 overall with a 4.96 ERA. He has also thrown a shutout for the Highlanders this season.

Conference Chatter
Entering the second half of the Big West Conference season, the Matadors are staking their claim in numerous Top 10 lists. As a team, Cal State Northridge has a combined batting average of .260. The Matadors have hit the sixth most doubles (56) and are second in the league with 17 home runs. The 342 hits collected are eighth in the conference standings. The team ranks second in the cconference with 47 sacrifice bunts as of April 30. 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 tied for 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 25 double plays this season and he is also tied for fourth with four home runs and sixth with eight sac bunts.

Individually, junior Marty Bowen ranks tied for sixth with eight runners caught stealing. 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 tied for 10th in the conference with 65.1 innings pitched and ties for seventh in the league with five wins on the season. Freshmen Louis Cohen ties for fifth 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 13 games on the mound for the Matadors and is also tied for first in the league with 21 appearances in 2012. With five wins, Cohen ties with Muren in the category. Another freshman, Jerry Keel, is second in the league among starting pitchers with a 1.93 ERA, which puts him 39th in the nation. All Big West statistics are current as of April 30.

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 65.1 innings, leads the staff with 34 strikeouts and has a 4.82 ERA. He also ties for the team lead with five victories on the year.

Where There's a Williams, There's a Way
Sophomore Miles Williams currently has a .268 batting average and leads the squad with 23 runs scored and 21 RBIs. In the finale at Sacramento State, Williams blasted a three-run home run off the third story of the parking structure adjacent to John Smith Field. Against #22 UCLA, Williams threw 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 and a three-run shot in a win over CSU Bakersfield on April 10. Williams led the team with a 3-for-6 day against Long Beach State, driving in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth on April 28.

Cal-ifornia Love
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 tied for third on the team with a .301 batting average. Vogelsang, who has seen time in both the outfield and at first and second base, leads the squad with 43 hits this season and has Northridge's only triple. He has one home run and 13 RBIs on the year in 39 games played. Vogelsang had at one point a 12 game hitting streak, the longest this season for CSUN, and also ties for first with the most multiple hit games (12), including three hits on four occasions.

Attl Boy!
Junior shortstop Kyle Attl is hitting .230 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 21 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. He also pitched in relief and picked up a win over CSU Bakersfield on April 24 and threw 7.0 innings in a no-decision against Long Beach State. The Matadors have won all four of Keel's starts in Big West play this season. Keel is 4-1 and has a team-best 1.93 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 2012.

Barry Nice
Junior Adam Barry is building on the productive summer season he had last year, as he owns a .265 batting average with seven doubles and 15 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. Barry cracked his first career home run in the win over Long Beach State (4/28), hitting a solo shot to right field.

Breathing a Simis of Relief
Junior Tommy Simis is making his way back into the lineup for the Matadors after over a month out of action. Through 20 games this year, Simis is hitting .281 and has recorded a hit in 13 contests, including five multi-hit games. He has also drawn six walks and been hit by a pitch three times, 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. In the series against Long Beach State, he had a hit and drove in a pair of runs.

Walking Off
Freshman Ryan Raslowsky and redshirt freshman Chester Pak have played key roles in nearly all of Northridge's walkoff victories this season. On February 25th against Northwestern, Raslowsky singled in the bottom of the 11th to move the winning run into scoring position before Pak singled to win the game. 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 beat No. 27 Cal Poly in the first game of a doubleheader on April 14. In Northridge's most recent walk-off victory, Nathan Ring eventually stole third base and came around to score on an errant throw in the bottom of the 12th to give CSUN the win over Long Beach State.

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