May 11, 2011

Matadors Face Long-Time Rival Highlanders at Matador Field this Weekend

May 11, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Matadors return to action this Friday through Sunday with a three-game conference series against the Highlanders of UC Riverside at Matador Field. With just nine games left in the season, Northridge will look to get more conference wins under their belt and work their way back into the Big West pack. Coming off of two wins over UC Santa Barbara last weekend, the Matadors try for their second Big West series win this weekend. All three games will be broadcast by both GameTracker and Internet radio through IBSU.net and GoMatadors.com.

Conference Chatter

Now in the final month of the Big West season, the Matadors continue to maintain steady marks in the conference statistics. The team is currently eighth in the Big West with a .263 batting average and seventh with a .361 slugging percentage. The Matadors are now sixth the Big West in hits (390) and doubles (70), tied for third in runs scored (220), fourth in runs batted in (196), and tied for fifth in triples (9). When it comes to the long ball, no other team has hit more homeruns as Northridge leads the league with 19.

The Matadors are displaying excellent plate discipline as they are third in walks drawn (149) and times hit by pitch (50), and are fourth in sacrifice flies (19). Defensively, Northridge ranks sixth in the league in strikeouts recorded (278). The Matadors' pitching staff has hit the fourth-fewest batters in the league (35), is fourth in the conference in saves converted (11), and is third in successful pick-offs (9). All statistics are accurate as of May 9.

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 started 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).

A Closer Look at UC Riverside

Cal State Northridge will host the Highlanders of UC Riverside in a three-game Big West Conference series at Matador Field this weekend. The Matadors lead the all-time series that began in 1959 99-78-1, but lost three of four last season to the Highlanders. Northridge won the only game at Matador Field a year ago.

The Highlanders enter the week losers of four in a row, including a three-game sweep at home against Cal State Fullerton and a non-conference loss at San Diego. They have scored three runs or less in each of those defeats, with the last victory a 10-6 win at USC on May 3.

Offensively, UC Riverside is led by Trevor Hairgrove, who enters the week with a .353 batting average, having started all 42 games this season. Hairgrove leads the team with 60 hits and has tallied 14 doubles and 26 RBI on the year. David Andriese is hitting .308 and leads UCR with four home runs and four triples while driving in 25 runs.

Matt Andriese leads the club on the mound with 60 strikeouts and is tied for the team lead with Eddie Orozco with a 2.47 ERA. Andriese has started 11 games and has tossed a complete game shutout to compile a 3-4 record. The first game between the Highlanders and Matadors will be on Friday, May 13 at 3 p.m. at Matador Field.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors were able to get the proverbial monkey off their backs by taking two of three games against UC Santa Barbara to win their first Big West Conference series of the season. In the series opener on Friday, Vincent Roberts (7.0 IP, 4 K) and Joshua Goossen-Brown combined to pitch the first shutout for Northridge since beating Seattle 2-0 on Opening Day in a 4-0 win over the Gauchos. Ridge Carpenter went 2-for-3 and Andrew Muren had a hit, RBI and run scored to lead the Matadors. Muren also threw out the potential tying run at the plate with two outs in the top of the eighth with CSUN ahead 1-0 at the time.

Northridge clinched the series the next day with a 4-2 victory in which Marty Bowen launched his first home run of the season and Steven Keller smacked a two-run go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth that proved to be the game winner. Keller finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored and Bowen went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run in the victory. The Gauchos were able to salvage the finale on Sunday behind dominant pitching as Gaucho starter Matt Vedo threw a complete game with nine strikeouts and an unearned run in a 5-1 Northridge loss. Muren brought in the only Matador run on a sacrifice fly and threw out a UCSB runner at second base in the game.

In a non-conference game at San Diego State on Tuesday, the Matadors were on the short end of a 6-5 decision. After leading the game in the early stages 4-0, the Aztecs fought back, eventually tying the game at five. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and two out, the SDSU batter was hit by a pitch to force in the winning run. Tommy Simis had two hits and two RBI in the loss.

Yard Work

The Matadors continue to rank at the top of the Big West with the long ball. Most recently, against UC Santa Barbara on May 7, both Marty Bowen and Steven Keller hit two-run bombs in the Matadors' 4-2 series-clinching win. In the 2-1 victory over Bakersfield on April 10, Ridge Carpenter led off the game with a solo home run to right field that proved to be the winner. Against Sacramento State, senior TS Reed hit his first home run 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 and added his third on April 22 with a three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth against Pacific. On March 8, Andrew 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 home run of the season. Keller, sophomore Chris Allen and freshman Miles Williams all cleared the bases with two-run homers. Sophomore Joshua Goossen-Brown hit a home run in his first career at-bat for the Matadors against Seattle as well. As a team, the Matadors lead the Big West Conference (19) as 11 different Matadors have gone yard this season.

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. Against UC Santa Barbara (5/6 - 5/8), Muren excelled in his position in center field by throwing out two runners on the base paths, once at the plate and once at second base.

Barry Nice!

Junior Adam Barry may be new to the Matadors, but he is quickly solidifying himself as an offensive threat in the Big West. Although he ranks fifth on the team with 38 hits, Barry has been a spark for Northridge at the plate and owns the third highest batting average on the squad at .295. He had eight hits in the series against Pacific at Matador Field (4/21 - 4/23) and recently had his Big West Conference leading 15-game hitting streak broken up in the weekend series at UC Davis.

The Anchor in the Outfield

Redshirt junior Andrew Muren posted three hits (two doubles) in four at-bats and scored three runs in Northridge's 13-6 victory over Pacific on April 21. He 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. In the three game series against UC Santa Barbara, Muren gunned down two runners, one at the plate, and made a long run and diving catch to save another run. 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. Muren is currently tied for third in the conference with 14 doubles and is tied for ninth in runs batted in (28).

The Flyin' Hawaiian

Senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter tripled twice at UNLV (4/5), becoming the first Matador with two triples in a game since 1998. He added six hits in the series against Pacific (4/21 - 4/23) and two against UC Santa Barbara on April 26 and is the team leader in multiple-hit games with 15. 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 all but game in the outfield for Northridge this season and is currently tied for fourth in the Big West for runs scored (33) and is tied for second in stolen bases (14).

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. The following 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 also spent time as the DH, first baseman, third baseman, catcher and relief pitcher for the Matadors so far this year and owns a .278 batting average. On the mound, Goossen-Brown has compiled a 4.63 ERA and is tied for the tenth-most wins in the Big West with four.

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 welcomed Seattle University, Valparaiso, Lafayette and UNLV to Matador Field this season, but only made a return trip to Las Vegas before the non-conference year was through. The Matadors competed in the four-day YMBL Cardinal Classic on the campus of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas from Mar. 3 through 6. They then traveled 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 played against teams from California. In total, Cal State Northridge faces just six opponents that play their home games outside of the Golden State.

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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