NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors will return to the Hawaiian Islands for the first time in nine seasons this week when they take on the University of Hawaii Rainbows in a three-game Big West Conference series at Les Murakami Stadium. The two programs have history with each other on the diamond as both were members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1993-96 before Northridge exited the league in 1997. The last time the Matadors and Rainbows battled in baseball was in a three-game non-conference series in 2004 as CSUN took two of three in Honolulu. All three games this week will feature live stats coverage provided by UH and each will be televised locally and for free online by Oceanic Time Warner Cable Sports. A Northridge radio broadcast (Kevin Strauss, Play-By-Play) will also be available and all related links will be posted on the baseball schedule page at GoMatadors.com.
GAMES #37-39: CSUN Matadors (19-17, 5-4) at Hawai'i Rainbows (8-24, 3-6)
Friday, April 19 - 6:35 p.m. (HST)
Saturday, April 20 - 6:35 p.m. (HST)
Sunday, April 21 - 1 p.m. (HST)
Thursday - Jerry Keel (4-1, 2.68 ERA) at Scott Squier (0-5, 3.20 ERA)
Friday - Calvin Copping (3-3, 3.09 ERA) at Corey MacDonald (4-3, 3.90 ERA)
Saturday - John Salas (2-5, 3.18 ERA) at Matt Cooper (2-4, 2.53 ERA)
Les Murakami Stadium (4,312) - Honolulu, Hawai'i
Live Stats: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
Audio: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
Free Video: Oceanic Time Warner Cable Sports, 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 split four games last week, all on the road against a pair of teams with over 20 wins to their credit already. On Wednesday, Northridge traveled to CSU Bakersfield for a single game and left Hardt Field with an 8-5 victory to take the season series from the Roadrunners. After entering the game as a pinch hitter, Anthony Lombardo went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. His RBI double in the seventh inning tied the game at 2-2 and his single in the eighth helped CSUN turn in a four-run inning to break the game open. The Northridge pitching staff did not allow a hit between the third and ninth innings and Harley Holt went 2.1 innings in relief to earn the win.
The Matadors then went south for a Big West series against then-No. 23 UC Irvine. After dropping a heartbreaker in 11 innings on Friday night, the Matadors rebounded with a strong pitching performance on Saturday in a 2-1 victory. Freshman Calvin Copping went 7.2 innings and allowed one run to pick up the win while working around seven hits. DJ Milam closed out the game with 1.1 innings of hitless baseball for his first career save. Freshman DH Michael Najera went 2-for-2 in the game with a double and triple, his first two career extra-base hits. Northridge held on for the win and earned a victory at UC Irvine for the first time since 2005.
The Anteaters rebounded, however, taking the final game of the series 2-0 on Sunday afternoon. John Salas pitched a complete game for CSUN and retired the final 10 batters he faced but the offense was unable to pick him up.
A Closer Look at Hawai'i
The University of Hawai'i Rainbows enter the weekend series with the Matadors at 8-24 overall and have a record of 3-6 in Big West Conference action. The Rainbows took two of three from UC Santa Barbara at Les Murakami Stadium to open the conference slate before being swept at UC Irvine and winning one of three last weekend at Cal Poly.
Conner George leads Hawai'i with a .277 batting average and has appeared in 29 of 32 games thus far. He has four doubles and leads the team with two triples as well. His 14 runs batted in rank second on the squad behind Pi'ikea Kitamura, who has 17 RBIs and has started all but one game this year. Kitamura has five extra-base hits, all doubles, and ties for third on the team with 11 runs scored. Marc Flores has the big bat for the Rainbows, leading the way with nine doubles, a home run and 12 runs scored. Hawai'i as a team has a .228 batting average and a .296 on base percentage through 32 games this season.
The Rainbows have four pitchers with regular starting roles: Matt Cooper, Corey MacDonald, Connor Little and Scott Squier. Cooper, MacDonald and Little started the three games at Cal Poly last weekend while Squier came in to get the save in last Sunday's win over the Mustangs. Cooper has the lowest ERA of the four at 2.53 and has a team-high 49 strikeouts but is 2-4 on the year. MacDonald is 4-3 with a 3.90 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 57.2 innings and Little is 1-5 with a 4.61 ERA in 54.2 innings. Squier is currently 0-5 in nine appearances, seven starts, and has 36 strikeouts on the year. As a staff, the Rainbows have an opposing batting average of .272 and a team ERA of 4.71.
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
With three conference series come and gone, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank among the statistical leaders in the Big West Conference's ninth standings release of the year. Northridge currently is sixth in team batting average (.266) and seventh in slugging percentage (.354). The Matadors are now fifth in the conference with 179 runs scored and are fourth with 316 hits recorded. Northridge has the seventh-best on base percentage (.350) and is sixth with 161 runs batted in. The Matadors are fourth in the league with 54 doubles and are third with 13 home runs. CSUN is the league leader with 42 sacrifice bunts and ranks fourth with 37 stolen bases.
Defensively, Cal State Northridge's pitching staff is settling in to a position in the middle of multiple categories. Northridge has the fifth-best earned run average (4.06) and is fourth in strikeouts with 228. The pitching staff leads the league with 83 strikeouts looking and is fourth with 19 wins. CSUN is tied for fifth in the Big West with four runners picked off on the year. The Matadors rank seventh for hits allowed at 336 and are fifth with 166 runs allowed this season.
Individually, Miles Williams leads the way with seven home runs. Nathan Ring is currently fourth in the Big West with 20 walks drawn and is tied for fifth with Chester Pak with seven stolen bases. Kyle Attl ties for the league lead for sacrifice bunts with seven. Joshua Goossen-Brown is tied for first in the league with a 1.000 fielding percentage. He has yet to make an error in 251 chances in the field and ties for seventh offensively with 25 runs batted in. Alexis Mercado is currently tied for ninth in the conference with nine doubles on the year.
Pitcher Jerry Keel and John Salas tie for third in the conference having struck out 16 batters looking so far this year. Salas ties for seventh in the Big West with 15 appearances on the season while also checking in at ninth with an opposing batting average of .235. Keel is 10th in the league wth a 45 strikeouts overall. Goossen-Brown checks in at fourth in the Big West with six saves and ties for seventh with nine games finished on the mound. All stats are current as of April 17 and include all games through April 16.