NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors welcome the Utah Valley University Wolverines to Matador Field for a four-game series this weekend. The Matadors and Wolverines have not previously met on the diamond. The two sides will open the series on Friday afternoon and will play a scheduled doubleheader on Saturday. The first game of the twin-billing is set to last seven inning while the second game will be a regulation nine-inning contest. The series finale will be played at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and as part of Little League Sunday, all Little Leaguers 13 and under in uniform will receive free admission.
GAMES #19-22: Northridge Matadors (6-12) vs. Utah Valley Wolverines (9-12)
Friday, March 22 - 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 - 11 a.m. (Doubleheader - Game 2 Begins 30 minutes after Game 1)
Sunday, March 24 - 1 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
Audio: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
In-game Twitter Updates: @CSUNBaseball
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home games this season will include live stats coverage and selected contests will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road games, 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.
The Matadors took on CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday afternoon in the first of three games the teams will play against each other this season. The game featured a pitching display for the first five innings as CSUN's John Salas went toe-to-toe with the Roadrunners' Taylor Aikenhead. Salas cruised through the first five innings, using just 50 pitches and allowing two hits.
CSU Bakersfield took the lead with three runs in the top of the sixth and went up by as many as five runs at 5-0 with a pair in the seventh. Northridge plated three in the bottom of the seventh inning but could get no closer on the afternoon.
Alexis Mercado and William Colantono opened the seventh with a pair of doubles, Chester Pak brought home a run with a fielder's choice and Miles Williams added an RBI single to cap off the scoring for Northridge. Kyle Attl added a run scored to his credit and now has 11 for the season, more than any other Matador.
A Closer Look at Utah Valley University
The Utah Valley University Wolverines come into this weekend's series at CSUN with a 9-12 record. They are 6-8 in road games, with wins over Portland, defending national champion Arizona, Sacramento State and Saint Mary's. Most recently, UVU lost 3-2 in 11 innings on Tuesday at Utah.
Kal Hatch leads the Wolverines offensively with a team-high 32 hits, 10 doubles, 14 runs batted in and 12 runs scored. In 21 starts, Hatch is batting .360 and has struck out just eight times in 89 at-bats. Court Zollinger has appeared in 14 games for UVU and is second on the squad with a .310 batting average in 42 at-bats.
Andrew Freter will get the start on Friday afternoon against the Matadors. In four starts this season, Freter is 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA in 23.0 innings. He has six strikeouts and nine walks and has conceded 16 runs this year. Adam Gunn is set to start the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. Gunn is 2-3 with a 5.90 ERA in 29.0 innings and has also thrown a complete game.
Also scheduled to start for UVU are Ty Hansen in Saturday's second game and Devin Nelson on Sunday. Hanson has four appearances (two starts) under his belt and is 1-2 with a 3.78 ERA. Nelson has started six games and is 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA in a team-high 32.1 innings.
Following the series at CSUN, UVU will head to BYU on Tuesday before opening Great West play next weekend at NJIT.
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
With the final non-conference series taking place this weekend, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank among the statistical leaders in the Big West Conference's fifth standings release of the year. Northridge currently is eighth in team batting average (.246) and ninth in slugging percentage (.325). The Matadors rank seventh in the conference with 81 runs scored and are ninth with 144 hits recorded. Northridge has the seventh-best on base percentage (.334) and is seventh with 72 runs batted in. The Matadors are 10th in the league with 22 doubles and are third with eight home runs.
Defensively, Cal State Northridge's pitching staff has propelled the team to rankings among the top half in multiple categories. Northridge has the sixth-best earned run average (4.58) and is also sixth in strikeouts with 119. The pitching staff is tied for second in the league with 48 strikeouts looking and is ninth with six wins. The Matadors rank sixth for hits allowed at 179 and are fifth with 90 runs allowed this season.
Individually, Miles Williams is tied for third with 18 RBIs and leads the conference with five home runs. Cal Vogelsang is tied for third with two sac flies. Nathan Ring is currently tied for fourth in the Big West with 11 walks drawn and is sixth with four stolen bases. Tommy Simis is tied for second in the conference with five sacrifice bunts. Joshua Goossen-Brown is tied for first in the league with a 1.000 fielding percentage and has had 85 chances in the field. He also ties for third with a pair of sacrifice flies on the year.
Pitcher Jerry Keel is tied for second in the conference with 10 strikeouts looking while teammate Calvin Copping is tied for eighth in that category with eight. John Salas ranks six with nine strikeouts looking. Keel also ranks just outside the Top 10 with 28.0 innings pitched thus far and Goossen-Brown checks in a seventh with a pair of saves. All stats are current as of the morning of March 21 and include all games through March 20.
That's Gold, Jerry! Gold!
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Jerry Keel is off to a quick start for the Matadors in 2013. Keel pitched seven shutout innings on Opening Day in a 5-0 win over Saint Mary's. He set a career high with seven strikeouts and did not allow a walk. Keel, the reigning Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year, conceded just four hits all afternoon. In a start at Washington State, he went 7.2 innings with five strikeouts and allowed just two runs. He added six strikeouts in 6.2 innings at Sacramento State in his most recent start. Keel currently has a 2.57 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 28.0 innings pitched.
Big Williams Style
Junior Miles Williams had a productive weekend at the plate for the Matadors in the season-opening series against Saint Mary's. In addition to hitting a home run, Williams doubled, scored twice and drove in five runs. The team's leading returner in terms of RBIs and home runs, Williams was also hit by a pitch three times to help Northridge get base runners in key situations. He drove in four runs across the two games of a doubleheader on against Saint Mary's. During the road trip to Washington State and Oregon, Williams hit a home run in three consecutive games, becoming the first Matadors with a homer in at least back-to-back games since 2011. After leading the Matadors with six home runs and 25 RBIs last season, Williams already has a team-high five roundtrippers and 18 RBIs through 17 games played.
He's a Ringer!
Senior outfielder Nathan Ring has been the lightning rod for the Matadors both offensively and defensively of late. Through 18 games, Ring is second on the team with a .303 batting average and is tied for third on the squad with eight runs scored. He has already belted two home runs this season, which also ranks second. With 28 total bases, Ring ranks second on the team and he has three more walks than any other teammate at 11. Ring leads the the team with four stolen bases while also collecting a team high 20 hits. In the series at Sacramento State, Ring had five hits, four runs scored, three RBIs and two steals. In 26 chances in the outfield this year, Ring has not committed an error and has two defensive assists to his credit. Ring has reached base in all but two games so far in 2013.
Attl Do, Kyle, Attl Do
Senior shortstop Kyle Attl, the infield leader for CSUN, helped the team win on Opening Day against Saint Mary's with both his bat and glove. Attl recorded three defensive assists in the game and went 1-for-3 with a double and run scored as the Matadors won 5-0. He went 1-for-1 in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader with a run scored, then went 2-for-4 with a run in the 8-3 victory in Sunday's finale. During the trip to Washington State and Oregon, Attl drove in his first two runs of the campaign while getting a hit in five of the six games. He is currently first on the team with a .322 batting average through 18 games. Attl tied for second on the team in runs scored last season and now has 53 in his career at Northridge. On the year, Attl has scoed a team-leading 11 runs and has a stolen base.
Breathing a Simis of Relief
Senior Tommy Simis started a pair of games at second base during the opening series against Saint Mary's and produced offensively for the Matadors. In the first game of a doubleheader, Simis went 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI double and followed it up with a 2-for-4 outing with a double and an RBI in the second game. He is third on the team with three doubles through his first 17 games played and now has 18 in his career. He also went 2-for-4 with a run scored in a home loss to USC and in the finale at then-No. 15 Oregon, Simis led the Matadors with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. In the win at Sacramento State, Simis went 3-for-4 with a run scored and matched his career mark for hits in a game.
Not a One-Man WolfPak
Sophomore Chester Pak is transitioning nicely into his role as the team's starting right fielder in his second full season. In the Opening Day win over Saint Mary's, Pak went 2-for-5 at the plate with a double, run scored and two RBIs. Late in the game, Pak also made a spectacular jumping catch to keep the hitter from certain extra bases. He had a hit in all four games of the opening series, one of two players on the team to do so. Pak recorded at least one RBI in all but one game of the series and also scored three runs and had a stolen base. Pak went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the opener at then-No. 15 Oregon and is now batting .236 with six RBIs and three stolen bases in 16 games played.
The Goose is Back
Junior Joshua Goossen-Brown put any concerns to rest with his performance in CSUN's opening-weekend series against Saint Mary's. After missing the 2012 season with an injury, Goossen-Brown returned to his familiar spot at first base and turned in a pair of three-hit games at the plate in the series. In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, he went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Then, in the series finale on Sunday, he again went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored in an 8-3 victory. Goossen-Brown matched career-highs for RBIs and hits in a game both days. In the win at USC, Goossen-Brown pitched 3.0 scoreless innings in relief to pick up the win and also drove in two runs and scored a pair of his own as the Matadors scored eight unanswered runs to win 9-4 in 11 innings. Goossen-Brown pitched a scoreless ninth inning at Washington State to record his first save of the season as the Matadors won 5-3. He now also has 19 RBIs, 26 runs scored, five wins and seven saves in his career at CSUN.
The Bull Market
Sophomore Alexis Mercado performed well in his first weekend as the team's starting catcher. Mercado caught three of the four games during the series against Saint Mary's and hit .300 at the plate. He hit a double and scored three runs to bring his career totals to four and eight, respectively. In the Opening Day win, Mercado also cut down a runner trying to steal and has now caught a runner stealing nine times in his career. At Washington State, he drove in his first run of the year by hitting his first career home run. On the season, Mercado has seven runs scored, five doubles and a homer.
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 has already endured an early-season road trip that saw the team play six games in six days at Washington State and No. 15 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) were ranked in the Preseason Top 30 by Collegiate Baseball. Northridge ranked 17th for strength of schedule by Boyd's World and also has the eighth toughest non-conference schedule.
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.