February 23, 2011

Matadors Continue Season-Long Homestand at Matador Field

Feb. 23, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors will continue their season-long eight game homestand when they host the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders this weekend at Matador Field. The series will get underway on Friday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. and will conclude on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. A doubleheader between the two teams will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m, with the second game scheduled to begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first. The games on Friday and Sunday will be broadcast on Internet radio through IBSU.net. You can access the live feed by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the calendar on the homepage of GoMatadors.com. Bill Courtland, Ryan McEachern, and Mark Schuermann will handle play-by-play duties this weekend.

First Impressions

With the Matadors' 2-0 victory over the Seattle University Redhawks last Friday, CSUN has now won on Opening Day two years in a row, bringing the program's overall mark to 31-20-2 in season openers. Junior Justen Gorski pitched seven strong innings and allowed just three hits to the Redhawks to notch his first win of the year. Gorski struckout eight hitters while walking two. Joshua Goossen-Brown and Ryan Juarez came into the game in relief to help preserve the shutout, with Goossen-Brown earning a hold and Juarez converting his first save of 2011. Senior TS Reed started the game at second base and went 1-for-1 at the plate, driving in both runs for Northridge.

A Golden State of Mind

Of the 56 games on the schedule in 2011, only five will be played outside the state of California. Northridge welcomes Seattle University, Valparaiso, Lafayette and UNLV to Matador Field this season, but only make a return trip to Las Vegas before the year is through. The Matadors compete in the four-day YMBL Cardinal Classic on the campus of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas from Mar. 3 through 6. They then travel to Las Vegas to face UNLV for one game on April 5 at the halfway mark of the season, with the entire second half of the schedule against teams from California. In total, Cal State Northridge faces just six opponents that play their home games outside of the Golden State.

The Flyin' Hawaiian

Senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter continues to be a threat on both sides of the ball for the Matadors in 2011. In the four-game series against Seattle University, Carpenter stole his first base of the year. In Northridge's 10-3 victory on Feb. 19, Carpenter went 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Over the summer, he was ranked as one of the top ten recruits competing in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League for his success as a member of the Kauai Menehunes. His speed and skill led him to be named the best base-runner in the Big West in a College Baseball Insider poll of conference coaches. Carpenter finished the 2010 season with 20 stolen bases for the Matadors.

The Goose is Loose

Sophomore transfer Joshua Goossen-Brown has wasted no time in making himself known around Matador Baseball circles. The pitcher/utility man pitched a scoreless eighth inning and picked up a hold in Northridge's 2-0 victory over Seattle University on Opening Day. The next day, he made his first start at first base for CSUN and homered in his first at-bat, a two-run blast to left field in the second game of a doubleheader. Later in the game, Goossen-Brown smacked a double and finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. He also threw two innings in relief on the mound in the series finale with the Redhawks.

Leaving His De Mark on CSUN

Senior infielder Justin De Marco returns to Northridge for his fourth season with the Matadors in 2011. He comes into this season looking to duplicate the success he had in the batter's box and in the field last season, when he raised his batting average 50 points to .301, drove in 27 runs and hit 13 doubles. With a sacrifice hit on Opening Day, De Marco now has 27 in his career, the most in Matador baseball history. 

The Man in the Middle

TS Reed is one of four seniors on the squad that have spent their entire collegiate careers at Cal State Northridge. With a sacrifice hit against Seattle on Feb. 20, Reed now has 20 for his career, good for third-best all-time. Last year, he set a career high by hitting for a .323 average with 54 hits in 167 at-bats. Reed also scored 25 runs and notched 25 RBI and was the only Matador to record five hits in a game, a perfect 5-for-5 effort in Northridge's 14-2 victory over Sacramento State on Mar. 27. 

A Closer Look at Valparaiso

This weekend's series between the Matadors and the Crusaders will mark the first time these two programs have met on the diamond. Valparaiso has fielded a baseball team every year since 1916 and have been to the NCAA Tournament 10 times, with the last appearance coming in 1976.

The Crusaders are coming off of a 24-32 season under head coach Tracy Woodson and are returning 22 players from last year's team. Valparaiso dropped the opening three games of the season against Austin Peay and is looking for its first win of the season. The Crusaders are in the midst of an impressive road trip, as their first 23 games of the season will be away from Emory G. Bauer Field.

The Valparaiso Crusaders return their top two hitters statistically from last season in senior Ryan O'Gara and junior Kyle Gaedele. O'Gara played in and started 29 games in 2010 and hit for a .388 average in 116 at-bats. O'Gara finished the season the year with 45 hits, seven doubles six homeruns and 26 RBI as an infielder. Gaedele started 56 games for the Crusaders last year and had a .373 batting average in 236 at-bats. He had an impressive season with 61 runs scored, 88 hits, 19 doubles, eight triples and seven homeruns, collecting 63 RBI. Valparaiso returns senior right-hander Damon McCormick on the mound, a winner of seven in 11 appearances (9 starts) in 2010.

A Look Ahead

The Matadors host Valparaiso for four games this weekend at Matador Field. The series kicks off on Friday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. (weather permitting) and will last until Sunday the 27th. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday at 11 a.m. By rule, the first game of the doubleheader is scheduled to last seven innings. The finale will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Four days later, CSUN will travel to Beaumont, Texas to participate in the YMBL Cardinal Classic on the campus of Lamar University on Mar. 3 through 6. The Matadors face New Mexico State, Lamar and San Francisco in the four day tournament and will go up against the host Cardinals on days two and four. No team in the Classic had a losing season last year, with the USF Dons finishing with a 29-29 record. The trip to Texas will be the farthest the Matadors play from the friendly confines of Matador Field during the regular season and they will not leave California again until a clash with the Rebels of UNLV in Las Vegas on April 5. The YMBL Cardinal Classic will be the only regular-season tournament on the slate for Northridge this season.

Under New Management

The Cal State Northridge Matadors will be under the direction of a new coaching staff in 2011, led by head coach Matt Curtis. Curtis joins the program from Fresno State, where he was an assistant coach for the Bulldogs for 10 years and was a part of five straight Western Athletic Conference title teams and the 2008 NCAA College World Series champions. Joining Curtis at CSUN is pitching coach Tim Leary, a former first round draft pick in 1979 by the New York Mets who won a World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. Also new to the coaching staff is CSUN alum and former Matador second baseman Shaun Larkin. Larkin was a member of Northridge's 2002 Big West Championship team and holds the NCAA Division-I record for consecutive times on base (18), and will work primarily with the infielders and hitters.

Results from Last Week

Cal State Northridge defeated the Seattle University Redhawks on Feb. 18 by a score of 2-0 to win on Opening Day for the second straight year. The Matadors improved their record in home openers to 36-17. Tommy Simis doubled and scored a run, Ridge Carpenter doubled, and Kyle Attl hit the first Northridge triple of the season in the victory. Justen Gorski allowed just three hits in 7.0 innings pitched and struckout eight en route to being named the Cal State Northridge Male Student-Athlete of the Week.

On Saturday, Feb. 19, the Matadors split a doubleheader with Seattle. They dropped the first game 9-0 in a seven-inning contest as Seattle was able to capitalize on two CSUN errors and hit two homeruns. In the second game, Northridge bounced back with a 10-3 win. Joshua Goossen-Brown made his first start at first base and hit a two-run homerun for his first hit in his first at-bat as a Matador. The Matadors were bolstered by two RBIs each from Drew Muren, Alex Muren and Goossen-Brown as Carlos Gonzalez, Jr. came in to pitch in relief to earn his first win at CSUN.

Cal State Northridge dropped the final game of the series in a 4-3 see-saw battle with the Redhawks. After taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning, Seattle fought back and tied the game on a two-run homerun. CSUN regained the lead in the fourth but couldn't hold on in the end. Tommy Simis hit two doubles in the loss to bring his total to three for the season and added an RBI, and catcher Steven Keller went 3-for-4 from the plate.

Strength of Staff

Cal State Northridge adds five pitchers to its veteran pitching staff in 2011. Returning Matadors include seniors Ryan Juarez and Paul Tremlin, each in their fourth full season with the program. Juarez and Tremlin combined for 10 CSUN victories a year ago and struckout 57 and 52 batters respectively. Other returners include senior Shawn Wilyman, and juniors Chris DeBoo and Justen Gorski. Joining the staff are two freshmen, Harley Holt and Louis Cohen, as well as three transfers, Joshua Goossen-Brown, Vincent Roberts and Carlos Gonzalez, Jr. In all, the Matador squad this season consists of 16 pitchers who will look to keep opponents off the scoreboard in 2011. Through one week, the Matadors lead the Big West Conference with 38 stikeouts recorded and are tied for first in batters struck out looking (11).

Dissecting the 2011 Squad

After finishing the 2010 season with a 29-27 overall record and a 9-15 mark in Big West Conference play, this year's team has its sights set on improving on the first winning season since 2002 and reaching the postseason again. The Matadors return 18 letterwinners from a year ago, led by senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter, and add 14 fresh faces to the program. Along with Carpenter, Northridge returns a core group of seniors poised to lead the team throughout the season, including infielder TS Reed, right-handed pitcher Paul Tremlin, infielder Justin De Marco, and right-handed pitchers Shawn Wilyman and Ryan Juarez.

Despite losing four key players that received All-Big West Conference honors last season, including First Team second baseman Ryan Pineda to the major league draft, the Matadors return over half of their roster in 2011. Northridge also adds seven transfers this season, including top newcomers in junior infielder Adam Barry and junior pitcher Carlos Gonzalez, Jr. This mix of transfer talent and veteran experience gives CSUN more depth around the diamond and in the bullpen as they gear up for a run at the Big West crown. 

Coach Curtis takes over the reigns in his first season at Cal State Northridge and inherits a relatively young team, as just under half (14) of his players have more than two years of collegiate baseball experience. Curtis believes that the Matadors' strength lies in pitching and he adds five hurlers to his staff, run by pitching coach Tim Leary, to join eleven returning pitchers from a year ago. As Curtis brings his experience to the Big West, the Matadors will be looking to continue the success they enjoyed last season and translate it to the conference slate.

Survey Says...

The 2011 Cal State Northridge baseball team received 13 points and was picked to finish in ninth place this season by the Big West coaches, as announced by the conference office in late January. Cal State Fullerton was the unanimous choice as the preseason favorite, receiving all nine first-place votes for 81 points. The Titans won their 15th Big West crown in 2010 and made their 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UC Irvine and UC Riverside each received 65 points to tie for second in the poll. Cal Poly was selected to finish fourth and Long Beach State nabbed the fifth spot with 47 points despite finishing in last place in the conference in 2010. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara received 36 points in the poll to check in at sixth, and the Matadors will face UCSB five times in 2011. Pacific came in seventh as they narrowly edged UC Davis by four points in the poll. Cal State Northridge begins Big West play on April 1 at UC Irvine.