NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors will play their final three-game series of the regular season this week when the No. 3 Cal State Fullerton Titans come to town on Thursday, May 23. The Titans wrapped up their fourth consecutive Big West Conference title last weekend and will participate in a postseason regional. The Matadors are currently tied for second in the conference and looking to take a series from the Titans to end the season. Northridge has taken at least one game from Cal State Fullerton in four of the last five seasons but has not won at least two since sweeping the Titans on the road in 2002. All three games this weekend will include live stats coverage and an Internet-only audio broadcast available on GoMatadors.com. Saturday's season finale is also Senior Day and the Matadors will honor their three senior members playing in their final collegiate home game before the 1 p.m. start.
GAMES #55-57: CSUN Matadors (31-23, 15-9) vs. #3 Cal State Fullerton (45-8, 20-4)
Thursday, May 23 - 3 p.m.
Friday, May 24 - 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 25 - 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 suffered a setback this past weekend at Cal Poly, dropping all three games of the series. However, the bullpen pitched phenomenally all weekend and Northridge saw the return of Jordan Johnson on Friday night. The redshirt freshman, who pitched briefly in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, made his first appearance in over a year and struck out two batters in just an inning of work on the mound. Also in the series, Anthony Cortez struck out five in 3.1 innings and Michael Coates struck out six in 3.2 innings, both setting new career highs in the process. The Matadors hit four doubles, a triple and two home runs during the series but could not push across the needed runs in order to defeat the Mustangs. Following the weekend, Northridge is now tied for second place in the Big West Conference with three games to play and is looking to solidify its best finish in conference play since the 2002 team won the league with a 19-5 record.
A Closer Look at No. 3 Cal State Fullerton
The No. 3 Cal State Fullerton Titans enter the week with a 45-8 record overall and a 20-4 mark in Big West play. Last weekend, the Titans swept UC Irvine at home to claim their fourth consecutive conference title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Titans are in a position to host a regional at Goodwin Field but must face off against the Matadors on the road in the last regular season series of the year.
Cal State Fullerton is led on offense by Carlos Lopez, who has a .333 batting average and has played in all but one game this season. Last weekend, Lopez hit a pair of walkoff home runs to seal wins over UC Irvine. He leads the way with 69 hits and has nine doubles, three triples, four home runs and 32 runs batted in. Michael Lorenzen is hitting .330 with a team-high 48 RBIs while starting every game in center field. He also is the team leader with seven home runs while also leading the way by being hit by a pitch 13 times.
Thomas Eshelman, Justin Garza and Grahamm Wiest are the weekend starters for the Titans but may not see action this week with the conference title already decided. Eshelman is 10-2 with a 1.51 ERA in 95.2 innings while Garza is 11-0 with a 1.96 ERA and a team-high 74 strikeouts. Wiest. typically the starter in a series finale, is 8-3 with a 3.26 ERA in 14 starts this season. Lorenzen acts as the team's closer and is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA and 17 saves this year.
Cal State Northridge is looking for its first series win against the Titans since 2002, when the Matadors earned a sweep on the road over Fullerton.
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
With the final weekend series on the slate this weekend, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank among the statistical leaders in the Big West Conference's 14th standings release of the year. Northridge currently is eighth in team batting average (.262) and eighth in slugging percentage (.351). The Matadors are now fourth in the conference with 273 runs scored and are seventh with 470 hits recorded. Northridge has the sixth-best on base percentage (.347) and is sixth with 243 runs batted in. The Matadors are fifth in the league with 84 doubles and are fourth with 21 home runs. CSUN is first in the league with 64 sacrifice bunts and ranks third with 62 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 (3.84) and is fifth in strikeouts with 319. The pitching staff is first in the league with 111 strikeouts looking and is third with 31 wins. CSUN is sixth in the Big West with five runners picked off on the year. The Matadors rank seventh for hits allowed at 494 and are sixth with 239 runs allowed this season.
Individually, Miles Williams ties for fourth in the conference with seven home runs. Nathan Ring is currently second in the Big West with 37 walks drawn and is tied for third with 14 steals as Chester Pak checks in at seventh with 12 stolen bases. Kyle Attl ties for the lead for sacrifice bunts with 11. Joshua Goossen-Brown is tied for first in the league with a 1.000 fielding percentage. He has yet to make an error in 415 chances in the field and is also third in the Big West with 45 runs batted in. Alexis Mercado is currently tied for third in the conference with 16 doubles on the year.
Pitcher Jerry Keel ranks second and John Salas ties for sixth in the conference having struck out 24 and 21 batters looking so far this year, respectively. Keel is ninth in the league wth 69 strikeouts overall and ranks fifth with a 2.27 ERA. Goossen-Brown currently ties for third in the Big West with nine saves and is eighth with 14 games finished on the mound. All stats are current as of May 21 and include all games through May 20.
That's Gold, Jerry! Gold!
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Jerry Keel is building nicely off of his 2012 Freshman All-American status and has cemented his place as the Friday starter. Keel pitched seven shutout innings over Saint Mary's and set a then-career high with seven strikeouts. 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 and got a win over Utah Valley after striking out six in 6.0 innings. In the Big West Conference opener at Long Beach State, he went 6.0 innings with five strikeouts to earn the win for the Matadors. Against UC Riverside, he struck out a career-high nine batters in 8.0 innings of work to pick up his fourth win. At Hawai'i, Keel struck out five and allowed just an unearned run on five hits in a complete game victory. He followed it up with another complete game over Pacific and allowed just four hits in 8.0 innings against UCSB. Keel currently has a 2.27 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 91.1 innings pitched this year.
He's a Ringer!
Senior outfielder Nathan Ring has been the lightning rod for the Matadors both offensively and defensively of late. Through 54 games, Ring has a .259 batting average and also ties for the team lead with 33 runs scored. He has already belted four home runs this season, which are good for second. With 71 total bases, Ring ranks fourth on the team and he has seven more walks than any other teammate at 37. Ring leads the team with 14 stolen bases while his 52 hits rank third in the clubhouse. In the series at Sacramento State, Ring had five hits, four runs scored, three RBIs and two steals. In CSUN's midweek game against San Diego on March 26, Ring turned in a career performance, going 5-for-5 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. He also had multiple-hit performances in the first two games at Long Beach State and now leads the team with 13 such outings. Against Washington, Ring hit a home run late and scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as CSUN won 8-7. In the series sweep at Hawai'i, Ring went 6-for-13 with a double, RBI and five runs scored. He also collected a stolen base and improved his batting average by 15 points.
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. Attl went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored against San Diego on March 26. In the game at San Diego on April 30, Attl made a highlight-reel catch to save CSUN's no-hit bid in the bottom of the sixth as he went full extension to snag a soft pop fly to left field. Attl also walked and scored a run as the Matadors won 6-4. In the sweep at UC Davis, Attl smashed a pair of home runs in key situations. He currently has a .279 batting average through 54 games. Attl tied for second on the team in runs scored last season and now has 74 in his career at Northridge. In 2013, Attl has scored 32 runs and has six steals with 10 doubles and 28 RBIs.
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. 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 had a career-high three hits in the opener against UC Riverside. In CSUN's win over Washington, Pak went 2-for-5 and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. In the series sweep at Hawai'i, Pak went 5-for-12 with a double, RBI and three stolen bases. In the finale against UCSB, Pak hit the first two homers of his career in a 7-1 win. On the season, he is now batting .268 with 18 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 52 games played.
The Goose is Loose
Junior Joshua Goossen-Brown turned in a pair of three-hit games at the plate in the opening-weekend series against Saint Mary's. 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. 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 at Washington State to record his first save of the season. In a doubleheader against Utah Valley, he picked up a save in both games to help the Matadors to a sweep. Against San Diego on March 26, he went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and was a home run shy of the cycle against Loyola Marymount on April 2, collecting a career-high three RBIs in the process. After posting 10 hits across CSUN's games from April 1 - April 7, Goossen-Brown was named the Big West Player of the Week. In the series sweep at Hawai'i, he drove in eight runs and had five hits, including his first home run of the season. Goossen-Brown is now hitting .276 and leads the team with 45 runs batted in. With 14 career saves on the mound, he ranks tied for first in school history and is one shy of setting the all-time record.
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 at the time 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 17 times in his career. At Washington State, he drove in his first run of the year by hitting his first career home run. In the series against Utah Valley, he recorded three hits, an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. In the series sweep at Hawai'i, Mercado went 7-for-13 with two doubles and four RBIs as he had multiple hits in all three games. At No. 8 UCLA, his RBI double in the first gave CSUN a 3-0 lead as the Mataadors won 4-1. On the season, Mercado has 28 runs scored and a home run and leads the team with 16 doubles.
Return of the Mack
Senior Cal Vogelsang returned from a wrist injury on April 26 and led the Matadors offensively with six RBIs in a three-game sweep of the Pacific Tigers. In his first game since March 1, Vogelsang went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in three runs as the Matadors won 6-1. Although he went hitless in the second game, his squeeze bunt in the bottom of the eighth gave CSUN an important insurance run in a 5-2 victory. Then on Sunday, Vogelsang had a sacrifice bunt and two sac flies as he brought home a pair of runs in the 8-7 win. His sac fly in the bottom of the 11th came with the bases loaded to help the Matadors complete a rally after trailing 7-2 in the eighth. In just 23 games this year, Vogelsang has 16 RBIs, four sac flies and seven sac bunts and is hitting .313 to lead the team.
Show Me the Ferra-Moolah
Sophomore Kyle Ferramola has taken a liking to the lineup and was on fire for the Matadors against Utah Valley. After moving from being strictly a pitcher to filling the DH slot in the series opener, Ferramola recorded a triple, single and two RBIs. In the second game of a doubleheader, he went 2-for-4 with a pair of solo home runs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth to give CSUN a 5-4 win. For his work, Ferramola was named the Big West Player of the Week. In the series opener at No. 23 UC Irvine, he went 2-for-3 and now has five multi-hit games on the season.