April 13, 2011

Matadors Resume Big West Play With Three-Game Trip to Cal Poly

April 13, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Matadors will return to conference action this weekend with a three-game series on the road at Cal Poly. Northridge will try to climb back into the thick of things in the Big West after losing all three at UC Irvine in the conference-opening series on April 1-4. All three games this weekend will be broadcast on Internet radio through IBSU.net and GoMatadors.com. Click the "Listen Live" link on the main calendar to access the stream. Kevin Strauss will provide play-by-play coverage of Matador Baseball road games all season long. 

The Goosse is Loose

Sophomore Joshua Goossen-Brown pitched a gem on April 5 at UNLV, throwing 5.0 innings and striking out five in his first start of the season. On Sunday at Bakersfield, he nearly tossed a complete game, throwing 8.1 innings and striking out four in the 2-1 victory. For his efforts, the Sherman Oaks, Calif. native was named the Big West Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week for April 5-11. On the week, Goossen-Brown went 2-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 13.1 innings. The pitcher/utility man has spent time as the DH, first baseman, catcher and relief pitcher for the Matadors so far this year and is second on the squad with a .327 batting average. Goossen-Brown has the third-lowest ERA in the Big West at 2.18 and the second-most wins with four.

The Flyin' Hawaiian

Senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter tripled twice at UNLV (4/5), becoming the first Matadors with two triples in a game since 1998 and had seven hits in the three-game series with LMU (March 25-27) to lead the team in multiple-hit games with 10. 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 and is currently tied for fourth in the Big West for runs scored (23) and is second in stolen bases (11).

The Anchor in the Outfield

Redshirt junior Andrew Muren had four hits, including a homerun and double, and five RBI in the conference opening series at UC Irvine (4/1 to 4/3) and was named as a Big West Conference Co-Player of the Week after hitting two homeruns, driving in seven runs and scoring six between March 7 and 13. Muren's grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning against San Diego State on March 8 scored the eventual winning run for the Matadors. Muren's versatility in the field, at the plate and on the base paths make him a threat to any opponent. His prowess in the outfield did not go unnoticed by the Big West Conference coaches, as they voted him the best defensive outfielder in a College Baseball Insider poll earlier this year. In the 2-1 victory at Bakersfield on April 10, he threw out a runner at the plate from centerfield to preserve the lead. Muren is currently tied for second in the conference for doubles (11) and is tied for third in runs batted in (21).

Yard Work

The Matadors have been seeing the ball well of late and have made opposing pitchers pay. In the 2-1 victory over Bakersfield on April 10, Ridge Carpenter led off the game with a solo homerun to right field that proved to be the winner. Against Sacramento State, senior TS Reed hit his first homerun of the season, a three-run shot in game two of a doubleheader on March 18, and redshirt sophomore Tommy Simis added his first of the year the next day in a pair of victories. On March 8, 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 batters 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 lead the Big West Conference (14) as nine different Matadors have gone yard this season.

Conference Chatter

Now that the Big West Conference season is underway, the Matadors find themselves jockeying for position in a crowded conference. The team is currently tied for sixth in the Big West with a .262 batting average and fourth with a .375 slugging percentage. The Matadors are third the Big West in hits (269) and lead with 58 doubles, rank third in the conference in runs scored (162) and runs batted in (144), and are fourth in triples (8). When it comes to the long ball, no other team has hit more homeruns as Northridge leads the league with 14, five more than the next squad. 

The Matadors are displaying excellent plate discipline as they are tied for second in walks drawn (109), and third in both times hit by pitch (36) and sacrifice flies (14). 

Defensively, Northridge ranks fourth in the league in strikeouts recorded (208) and fifth in batters struck out looking (65). The Matadors' pitching staff has hit the fourth-fewest batters in the league (22), is tied for third in the conference in saves converted (9), and tied for first in successful pick-offs (8). 

The Matadors are currently ranked No. 161 in the NCAA RPI rankings, a jump of 37 spots from last week. All statistics are accurate as of April 11.

A Closer Look at Cal Poly

Northridge returns to Big West action this weekend with a three-game series against the Cal Poly Mustangs. The Matadors own the edge in the all-time series that began in 1959 at 116-92, but the Mustangs have taken five of the last six and the last five played at Baggett Stadium.

The Mustangs take a record of 12-16 (3-3 Big West) into this weekend and defeated Santa Clara 7-2 on the road on Tuesday. Both Mitch Haniger and Elliot Stewart homered for Cal Poly in the victory as Kyle Anderson picked up his second win.

Cal Poly is led offensively by shortstop Mike Miller, who owns a .375 batting average with seven doubles and 16 RBI in just 22 starts. His doubles total leads the team and he ranks second in RBI. Centerfielder Bobby Crocker is hitting .330 with a homerun and 21 runs scored and has started every game for the Mustangs.

Right-handed pitcher Mason Radeke will likely get the start against the Matadors on Friday night and he leads the team with a 4-1 record and a 2.82 ERA in eight starts. Radeke has recorded 60 strikeouts while only walking 17. Steven Fischback is slated to start on Saturday and he will bring in a 2-2 record with a 4.97 ERA through seven starts. Right-hander Chase Johnson could get the starting nod on Sunday in the finale and has not allowed a triple or homerun in 25.0 innings this season.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors took a break from Big West Conference play by traveling to Cal State Bakersfield for a three-game split series with the Roadrunners over the weekend. The first game, played at Matador Field, was a 15-5 victory for Bakersfield. Sophomore Tommy Simis went 3-for-4 with a two-run homerun and senior Justin De Marco added two RBI in the loss.

The series shifted to Bakersfield on Saturday with a similar result as the Matadors dropped a 13-3 decision at Hardt Field despite Marty Bowen's 4-for-5 night. Northridge trailed 5-0 and pulled to within two runs at 5-3 before an eight-run seventh inning for Bakersfield sealed the game. In the series finaled on Sunday, the Matadors jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as Ridge Carpenter led off the game with a homerun to right field. Freshman Matthew Telesco singled and scored in the third to give Northridge a 2-0 lead. In the fourth inning, centerfielder Andrew Muren threw out a runner trying to score from second on a single. In the bottom of the ninth, and while clutching to a 2-1 lead, the Matadors needed steller defense again from the outfield to hold on. With one out and runners on first and second, the Roadrunners singled to rightfielder Nate Ring who was able to fire a strike to the plate to keep the tying run off of the board. Joshua Goossen-Brown pitched 8.1 innings and struckout four for his fourth win of the season.

In a non-conference game against UC Santa Barbara at Matador Field on Tuesday, the Matadors earned their first walk-off victory in over a year as Northridge rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2. Northridge scored once in the bottom of the eighth and was down to its last strike with runners on first and second in the ninth when Tommy Simis hit a bloop to right field. The fielder dove for the ball and missed, giving Simis a double and scoring the tying and winning runs.

Winning the Arms Race

The Matadors have been able to win close games as of late thanks in large part to the defense. Whether they are turning timely double plays or throwing out runners on the basepaths, the Matadors are sending a message to opponents and the rest of the conference. In a 2-1 victory over Loyola Marymount on March 27, Northridge threw out a runner at second base, third base, and two at the plate. In the tops of the fourth and fifth innings, ground balls to shortstop Kyle Attl resulted in runners out at home as he fired to catcher Steven Keller twice to keep runs off the board. Adam Barry cut down a runner at second base from left field and Nate Ring threw out a batter trying to stretch a double into a triple. In the 2-1 victory on the road against Bakersfield on April 10, both Andrew Muren and Nate Ring threw out runners at the plate to preserve the lead; Ring fired home to cut down the runner trying to tie the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Making History

With the Matadors' 10-5 victory over the Sacramento State Hornets on March 19, Cal State Northridge won its 1,500th game on the baseball diamond. The program began play in 1959 as San Fernando Valley State College and began its inaugural season 0-7 before winning for the first time in school history against UC Riverside 7-5 at Matador Field. Now in its 53rd season, Cal State Northridge baseball has won 12 conference titles, the first in 1965 (California Collegiate Athletic Association) and the most recent in 2002 (Big West Conference), and two NCAA Division II National Championships (1970 and 1984).

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.

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.

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