NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors open up their 54th season of competition when they host the Saint Mary's Gaels in a four-game series this weekend. Northridge, coming off of a year that saw them tie for sixth in the Big West Conference, will look to start the 2013 campaign on the right foot. The Matadors are 32-20-2 all-time on Opening Day and have not lost a home opener since 2008. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday with the first game scheduled for 11 a.m. and the second game starting 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first.
GAMES #1-4: Northridge Matadors (0-0) vs. Saint Mary's (CA) Gaels (0-0)
Friday, February 15 - 2 p.m.
Saturday, February 16 - 11 a.m. - Doubleheader Game 1 (7 Innings)
Saturday, February 16 - TBA - Doubleheader Game 2 (30 min. after G1 - 9 Innings)
Sunday, February 17 - 1 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: http://livestats.prestosports.com/northridge/
In-game Twitter Updates: @CSUNBaseball
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home games this season will include live stats coverage and selected games will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road contests, related links to the game, including for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the game on the baseball schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athletics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) and the baseball-specific feed (@CSUNBaseball) for updates of games in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
Big West Breakdown
The Big West Conference welcomed the University of Hawai'i into the league as a full member in all sports except football on July 1, 2012. Although the league expanded to 10 members this season, it will return to nine after 2013 as the University of the Pacific leaves for the West Coast Conference.
The league's head coaches recently tabbed 2012 champion Cal State Fullerton as the preseason favorite, followed by UC Irvine, Long Beach State and Cal Poly. In fact, the top four schools in the preseason poll each finished in the top four in the last year's standings. The top four teams in the poll (CSF, UCI, LBSU, CP) were chosen to finish in that order in 2012 as well. UC Santa Barbara was picked to finish fifth in the Big West followed by Hawai'i and UC Riverside.
The Matadors were selected eighth and were followed in the poll by UC Davis and Pacific.
A Closer Look at Saint Mary's
The Matadors welcome the Saint Mary's Gaels to Matador Field for a four-game series this weekend. Last year, the Gaels compiled a 24-29 record and an 8-16 mark in West Coast Conference play for an eighth-place finish. In 2012, Northridge took the middle game of a three-game set at Luis Guisto Field.
In the first game of a doubleheader, Ryan Raslowsky grounded out while bringing home Chester Pak in the top of the ninth inning to give the Matadors a 3-2 victory.
Left-handed pitcher/infielder Collin Ferguson brings back the highest batting average for Saint Mary's from last season. In 2012, Ferguson started in 44 games, hit 16 doubles and two home runs and compiled a .315 batting average. He led the team with 58 hits and also scored 21 runs. Last year, Ferguson did not allow a run on the mound in three innings of work.
Outfielder Brenden Kalfus brings back a .265 batting average after starting 51 games last year and appearing in all but one. Kalfus has seven doubles, a triple and two home runs last season while fininshing second on the team with 26 RBIs.
Left-handed pitcher Ben Griset is the lone weekend starter returning for Saint Mary's and one of only three pitchers on staff that started in more than one game in 2012. Griset finished the season with a 2-8 record and a 4.39 ERA. He had 59 strikeouts and 27 walks issued in 69.2 innings on the mound.
Following the series at CSUN, the Gaels will open their home slate with three games against Chicago State next weekend.
Matadors in the 2012 Big West Top Ten
With a new season set to begin, we take a look back at how the Matadors stacked up in the statistical Top 10 lists in the Big West for 2012. As a team, Cal State Northridge had a combined batting average of .255. The Matadors hit the seventh most doubles (77) and finished tied for second in the league with 22 home runs. The 449 hits collected were ninth in the conference standings. The team ranked sixth in the conference with 55 sacrifice bunts as well. The pitching staff ranked tied for fourth in the Big West with 12 saves on the year and tied for fifth with four complete games.
Senior Brett Balkan was hit by a pitch 12 times, which ranked him tied for eighth in the conference. Sophomore catcher Alexis Mercado ranked just outside the Top 10 in the league as he caught six runners attempting to steal. Senior Kyle Attl ended the year fifth in the conference as he helped turn 33 double plays this season and he also tied for eighth with four home runs and tied for ninth with eight sac bunts.
Individually, sophomore Ryan Raslowsky tied with Attl at ninth with eight sacrifices. Junior outfielder Miles Williams finished second in the league with six home runs. He also drew 19 walks and his 31 runs scored put him just outside of the Big West standings.
A group of Matador pitchers found themselves in the conference rankings as well. Sophomore Louis Cohen ended the season fifth with six saves. Harley Holt had three saves, good for a 10th in the league. Cohen tied for seventh as he finished 16 games on the mound for the Matadors and was also fourth in the Big West with 27 appearances in 2012. With seven wins, Cohen tied for sixth in the conference. Another sophomore, Jerry Keel, finished second in the league among starting pitchers with a 2.07 ERA, which put him 26th in the nation and earned him the league's Freshman Pitcher of the Year award. Keel also earned six wins, good for a tie for 11th.
That's Gold, Jerry! Gold! - 2012 Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Jerry Keel finished his freshman campaign with a 6-3 record and a team-best 2.07 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 2012. For his work, Keel was named the Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year after helping Northridge defeat six conference opponents and compiling the second lowest ERA in the league. He also earned a spot on the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American Team chosen by Collegiate Baseball. He made a positive impact in his first career appearance over the opening weekend at Sacramento State last season. 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 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. Keel followed it up with an 8.0 inning, six strikeout game in a win at UC Riverside on May 5 and a 7.2 inning, six strikeout day in a win over UC Irvine.
Where There's a Williams, There's a Way
Junior Miles Williams finished his second season at Northridge with a .258 batting average and led the squad with 31 runs scored and 25 RBIs. In the final game of the series 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 collected seven multi-RBI games on the season. 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. On the season, Williams had seven doubles and his six home runs were the most of any Matador.
Senior Cal Vogelsang found his rythym on both sides of the ball and climbed the leaderboard in the clubhouse offensively in his first season at Northridge as he finished the year with a .278 batting average. Vogelsang, who saw time in both the outfield and at first and second base, led the squad with 55 hits this season and had a triple. He had one home run and 18 RBIs on the year in 52 games played. Vogelsang had at one point a 12 game hitting streak, the longest this season for CSUN, and had the most multiple hit games on the team (15), including three hits on five occasions. At UC Riverside Vogelsang had four hits, three of which were doubles, and had two hits and two RBIs in the finale against UC Irvine.
Senior shortstop Kyle Attl hit .225 in his third year at Cal State Northridge in 2012. In addition to eight sacrifice bunts, which tied for the team lead, Attl collected 10 doubles and had 22 RBIs while scoring 24 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. Attl had a pair of doubles and two RBIs in the series with UC Irvine and was third on the team with four homers last season.
Breathing a Simis of Relief
Senior Tommy Simis made his way back into the lineup last season for the Matadors after over a month out with an injury in late March. In 28 games as a junior, Simis hit for a .268 average and had six multi-hit games. He also drew seven walks and was hit by a pitch three times, finding ways to get on base when the Matadors needed 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. In the season-ending series at Pacific, Simis had a pinch hit and a run scored in the opener and had a pair of hits the next day to lead the production for the Matadors.
Sophomores Ryan Raslowsky and Chester Pak played key roles in nearly all of Northridge's walkoff victories last 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. Nathan Ring 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 on April 28. Ring then scored Raslowsky with a single in the bottom of the ninth to upend UC Irvine 5-4 on May 13.
Northridge has brought in a number of new faces to the program this year, including five transfers. Shay Maltese, Michael Coates, Kyle Ferramola, John Salas and Brycen Rutherford all bring in previous experience from junior college, while CSUN also sees the return of redshirt Joshua Goossen-Brown, who missed the 2012 season due to injury. In addition, the Matadors welcome 10 freshmen to the squad that look to get action in their first season with Northridge. In total, CSUN has added three infielders, 11 pitchers, a catcher 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 Matadors have put together another challenging schedule and will face four programs that competed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. A grueling non-conference slate includes series against cross-town rivals USC and UCLA as well as a four-game set at home against Utah Valley, a team that won 47 games and went 28-0 in conference play last season. Northridge will endure an early-season road trip that sees the team playing six games in six days at Washington State and Oregon before a day off and a weekend series at Sacramento State. The Matadors will play a home-and-home series against San Diego and will host Washington. Northridge's Big West season gets underway on March 28 at Long Beach State. Five opponents (UCLA, Oregon, San Diego, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine) are ranked in the Preseason Top 30 by Collegiate Baseball.