March 9, 2011

Matadors Welcome Leopards for Four Games, UNLV for One

March 9, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors return home this week to face off against Lafayette College and UNLV with games in both Northridge and Compton, Calif. The Matadors will match up against Lafayette for the first time ever, with the first game scheduled for this Friday, Mar. 11 at Matador Field. The next day will feature a doubleheader that will be played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton starting at 1 p.m. The series with the Leopards will wrap up on Sunday back in Northridge at 1 p.m.

The Rebels of UNLV travel west to face Northridge for one game on Tuesday, Mar. 15. The contest will be the only one between the two teams until CSUN makes the return trip to Las Vegas on April 5. The first and fourth games against Lafayette and the game against UNLV will be broadcast on Internet radio at GoMatadors.com. All Matador home games will feature Gametracker coverage all season long.

Yard Work

The Matadors have been seeing the ball well of late and have made opposing pitchers pay. Drew Muren's grand slam capped a six-run seventh inning, and Chris Allen added a two-run blast in the eighth to beat San Diego State 12-9. In the victory over Lamar, Nate Ring hit a solo homer in the top of the first to give CSUN an early 1-0 lead. During the series with Valparaiso, three different Northridge hitters hit their first homerun of the season. Junior Steven Keller, sophomore Chris Allen and freshman Miles Williams all cleared the bases with two-run homers. Sophomore Joshua Goossen-Brown hit a homerun in his first career at-bat for the Matadors against Seattle as well. As a team, the Matadors are currently tied for first in the Big West Conference with five homeruns as of March 7.

The Flyin' Hawaiian

Senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter continues to be a threat on both sides of the ball for the Matadors in 2011. Carpenter finds ways to get on base, as he had a hit in three of four games against Valparaiso. 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 has started every game in the outfield for Northridge this season

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 came on in relief during the Matadors' 5-2 win over Valparaiso in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Feb. 27 and pitched 4.1 innings, striking out six hitters to earn his first save of the year. He also pitched 1.2 innings against San Francisco, a game that the Matadors won in extra innings at the YMBL Cardinal Classic in Beaumont, Texas.

A Closer Look at Lafayette

This weekend's series against the Lafayette College Leopards will mark the first time that these two schools meet on the baseball diamond. The Leopards currently own a 2-4 record coming into this week.

The first game of the series will be played at Matador Field this Friday at 2 p.m. The next day, the two teams will play a doubleheader at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., where the Matadors began their 2010 season in an invitational. The doubleheader is slated to begin at 1 p.m., with the second game to be played 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first. The series finale will be back at Matador Field on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Leopards will face Rider on Wednesday before making the trip out west to face the Matadors. Coming into the week, Lafayette has won two straight games against UMBC on the road in Maryland. They are yet to play a home game in 2011. Lafayette is led offensively by A.J. Miller and Scott Kelleher, both of whom have started every game and have a batting average of .455. Miller has two doubles, a triple, two homeruns and nine RBI in six games this season, while Kelleher has scored six runs and has one double in ten hits.

The Friday starter for the Leopards is scheduled to be Zach Fritz, who is 1-1 in two starts this season with a 7.20 ERA. Fritz has struckout nine while walking only two batters this season.

A Closer Look at UNLV

Overall, the Cal State Northridge Matadors are 25-24 all-time against the Rebels of UNLV. The last time these two teams met was in Las Vegas in 2010, as the Matadors came away with an 11-8 road victory. The Rebels come into the week at 11-2, and will play two against Arizona and four with Valparaiso before coming to Matador Field on Tuesday, Mar. 15.

This matchup will be one of two between Northridge and UNLV this season, with the Matadors heading to Las Vegas for one game with the Rebels on Tuesday, Apr. 5.

Offensively through 13 games, the Rebels are led by Rance Roundy, who has turned in 26 hits in 47 at-bats for a .553 batting average. Roundy has eight doubles, five homeruns and 19 RBI so far this season. Trent Cook is hitting .404 on the year with 17 runs scored and 14 RBI and has started each game for UNLV in 2011.

The top starting pitcher for the Rebels is Tanner Peters, who is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three starts. He has thrown a complete game shutout and has struckout 23 batters in 21.0 innings.

Results from Last Week (YMBL Cardinal Classic)

Cal State Northridge embarked on its first road trip of the season when the Matadors traveled to Beaumont, Texas for the YMBL Cardinal Classic on the campus of Lamar University. The weekend started roughly for the Matadors, as they dropped their first two games in the four-day invitational.

In the first game of the Classic, Northridge rallied to tie New Mexico State in the top of the ninth inning, but the winning run scored for the Aggies in the bottom of the ninth. The next night, CSUN trailed wire-to-wire in a 14-1 loss to the host Lamar Cardinals.

The Matadors were able to turn things around against the San Francisco Dons, getting 5.2 scoreless innings out of starting pitcher Alex Muren. Northridge rallied for the victory in the bottom of the tenth after the tying runs scored for the Dons in the top of the eighth. On the final day of the tournament, Northridge won a back-and-forth battle with Lamar 7-6, earning a split at the Classic.

First Impressions

With the Matadors' 2-0 victory over the Seattle University Redhawks on Feb. 18, 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.

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.

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.