February 29, 2008

Matadors Change Plans, Host UCLA Before Set With La Salle

Feb. 22, 2008

This Week in Matador Baseball
Tue., Feb 22 • UCLA • Matador Field • 2:00 p.m.
Fri., Feb 23 • La Salle • Matador Field • 2:00 p.m.
Sat., Feb 24 • La Salle • Matador Field • 1:00 p.m.
Sun., Feb 24 • La Salle • Matador Field • 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday's Game Time, Venue Changed
Set to travel to Brentwood Tuesday to take on the Bruins of UCLA, the Matadors had a change of plans Monday when the sides agreed to move the site of the game to Northridge after heavy rains took their told on the Bruins' home turf, Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The game is now slated to take place at 2 p.m. at Matador Field. With the change, the Matadors now have 13 consecutive home games to start the year.

Matadors Grab First Win of the Season
Despite suffering back-to-back losses to open the season for the first time since 1998, the Matadors were able to bounce back on Sunday with a 17-9 win in inclement conditions. The 17 runs were the most the program had scored since drubbing San Diego 24-14 at Matador Field in the opening weekend of 2004.

Northridge scored the majority of its runs in a 12-run sixth-frame. The Matadors scored 12 runs in just one full game in 2007 and hadn't pushed that many across in a single frame since a 2006 victory over UC Davis. The program record for runs in one inning is 14 and is 11 years old.

John Parham and Richard Cates broke through on Sunday and smacked the first home runs of the 2008 season. Both players have a history of mashing homers early in the year: Parham smacked his first dinger of the year in the first weekend in 2007 and Cates hit a home run in his first at bat of 2006, which came in the second series of the season. Cates' five RBI on Sunday were a new career-high.

Vets Lead the Way
With the attention focused on an expansive and talented freshman class, it was the Northridge returners that led the way over the weekend. Cates and Parham were among the best, but C.J. Belanger and Jowen-James Murray-Thornton were also stalwarts in the Northridge line-up. Belanger led the team with five hits and also stole a base while anchoring the Northridge defense in centerfield, and Murray-Thornton smacked two hits and drove in a pair as the starting first baseman on all three days. Matt Warr joined Cates, Belanger, and Murray-Thornton as Matadors to reach base at a clip of .500 or better.

On the Job Training for Northridge Freshmen
The Matadors open the 2008 season with 17 freshman on their roster, and each of the first-year position players (aside from the injured Dominic D'Anna and Scott Stidham) received playing time in the opening weekend. Two first-year pitchers were able to put in work.

The Matadors fielded four freshman on opening day and also had one pitcher, Taylor Austin, come on in relief.

Each of the freshmen performed admirably in their premiers. Matt Carvutto pounded a single in his first at bat, Matt Warr had a double among three hits, Jeff Pruitt legged out a pair of singles, Ryan Pineda and Drew Muren also had a pair of hits each, and Todd Eskelin and Justin DeMarco each got one hit and played excellent defense. Chris Hannick went hitless but slugged a key sac fly in Sunday's victory. DeMarco and Warr, in particular, played outstanding defense. DeMarco, Eskelin, Pineda, and Muren each started all three games.

Rotation Remains the Same
The Matadors' starting rotation of Jimmy Jolicoeur, Phil Hann, and Davin Tate will remain the same for the upcoming weekend series vs. LaSalle. The Explorers come to town for a four-game set that span from Friday to next Tuesday, and Jolicoeur will be the first pitcher they see. Hann, who posted the most impressive outing, will follow on Saturday, and sophomore Davin Tate will be the Sunday starter. The Tuesday starer is to be determined.

Muren Slated to Start
Muren will take the hill for the Matadors Tuesday. Listed as an outfielder/right-handed pitcher, the big hurler will be seeing his first action as a pitcher against UCLA, which is currently rated as high as #2 in the nation. The 6'6" Muren forms an imposing presence on the mound and is a legitimate two-way player for the Matadors.

Scouting the...
Bruins: The Matadors renewed an old brawl with UCLA in 2007 and was run out of Brentwood with a sweep that featured some extremely close finishes. The rivalry has been contested 67 times and Northridge holds the all-time advantage at 34-32-1. This year, however, the Matadors are facing a Bruin team with a legitimate shot at claiming the program's first NCAA championship. The Bruins feature experience at nearly every position and are led by preseason All-AMerican shortstop Brandon Crawford and returning infielders Jermaine Curtis, Alden Carrithers, Cody Decker, and catcher Ryan Babineau. Tim Murphy and Gavin Brooks anchor a staff flush with experience.

On Tuesday, the Bruins will send lefty Matt Drummond to the mound for the first start of his career. Drummond made eight appearances and two starts as a freshman, accumulating an ERA of 8.49 in 11.2 innings. His record ran to 0-1.

Explorers: La Salle comes into the weekend after a four-game sweep at the hands of Elon. Out of the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Explorers finished 17-32 in 2007. Shane Frangiosa was the top performer for the Explorers in their first series, going 6-for-17 for the weekend. John Malloy has slugged a pair of home runs so far.

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