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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors conclude the 2012 regular season this weekend with a three-game series against the University of the Pacific. Northridge will open the series on Friday, May 25 at 6 p.m. against the Tigers. The two programs will also play on Saturday and Sunday, both at 1 p.m. The Matadors are currently in a tie for fifth place in the Big West Conference with three games to play and have a chance to finish the conference schedule with a .500 record or better with a series win at Pacific. Picked to finish last in the conference in the preseason coaches poll, Northridge can finish the season no lower than a tie for seventh and can climb as high as third depending on how the weekend plays out around the league. Each game this weekend will feature live stats and radio coverage available on GoMatadors.com. Kevin Strauss will handle the play-by-play duties from Stockton, Calif. this weekend.
GAMES #51-53: Northridge Matadors (23-27, 10-11 Big West) at Pacific Tigers (13-40, 3-18 Big West)
Friday, May 25 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 26 - 1 p.m.
Sunday, May 27 - 1 p.m.
Klein Family Field (2,500) - Stockton, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Kevin Strauss - Play-By-Play
In-game Twitter Updates: @CSUNBaseball
Can't Make it Out to the Field?
Follow the Matadors online all season long at GoMatadors.com on your computer or smartphone. A majority of this season's games will feature an Internet radio broadcast provided by Stretch Internet that can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection, including tablet computers, Android products and the Apple iPhone. If you miss a game, you can access the broadcasts on demand for free by clicking the "On Demand" tab in the CSUN audio portal. As a shortcut, fans can open the audio portal by clicking on the headphones icon at the top of any page of GoMatadors.com.
Games this season will also include live stats coverage that can be accessed by clicking the "Live Stats" link on the baseball schedule page. Links to radio coverage (for both teams, if applicable) will also be on the schedule page. As always, game-by-game coverage and news updates can also be found on Twitter by following @CSUNBaseball and @GoMatadors.
A Season of Firsts
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have broken a few ominous streaks and records this season. The team won a road conference series for the first time since 2004 and took a three-game series from UC Riverside for the first time since 2002. Northridge defeated UC Irvine for the first time since 2008 and won the series for the first time since 2004. The Matadors have also reached the 10-win mark in Big West play for the first time since 2002 and only the second time in the program's Big West history.
Results from Last Week
The Matadors look to rebound after going 1-3 in games last week. Northridge dropped a series to the visiting UC Davis Aggies before losing its final non-conference game on Tuesday at CSU Bakersfield. The Matadors are 5-5 in their last 10 games but won their last series on the road at UC Riverside and have taken a game in all three previous Big West series on the road.
In the team's first game against the Aggies on Friday, the Matadors dropped a 9-5 decision. UC Davis scored all of its runs in the first four innings before Northridge scored the final five of the game. Nathan Ring went 2-for-3 with a run scored for CSUN and Steven Keller went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run in the defeat. Adam Barry also drove in a run as five different Matadors scored in the game.
On Saturday, the Matadors were defeated 8-2 after a seven-run eighth inning for the Aggies. Northridge scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth as pinch hitters Alexis Mercado and Matthew Moreno provided run production. Mercado hit an RBI double to right center and Moreno added a sacrifice fly for the Matadors.
In the team's regular season home finale on Senior Day, a pair of seniors came through in a 6-3 victory. Vincent Roberts pitched three scoreless innings after coming in down by a run to pick up his first win of the year. Keller broke the tie in the bottom of the eighth with a three-run home run to left center, his second homer of the series. The Matadors were able to salvage the series and reach the 10 win mark in league play for the first time since 2002.
Northridge was unable to keep the momentum going on Tuesday, however, and lost its final non-conference game of the season to CSU Bakersfield. Despite the loss, the Matadors took the season series from the Roadrunners after winning the first two games at Matador Field in April.
A Closer Look at Pacific
The Pacific Tigers enter the final weekend of the season with an overall record of 13-40 and a mark of 3-18 in Big West Conference play. Pacific won a game on the road at Long Beach State last weekend and also has a conference win at UC Davis and over UC Riverside in Stockton.
The Tigers are led on offense by Erik Lockwood, who is batting .368 with 57 hits in 46 games. He ties for the team lead with 26 RBIs and also has 12 doubles. Allen Riley has five home runs and 11 doubles and is hitting at a .249 clip while Josh Simms is the team leader with 62 hits, 13 doubles and 29 runs scored. Simms has a .308 batting averge and is the only Pacific player to have started each game this season.
Michael Benson will get the Friday night start on the mound for the Tigers and is 2-9 with a 3.40 ERA in 13 starts this year. He leads the team with 87.1 innings pitched, has thrown two complete games and has 43 strikeouts. Mike Hager will start Saturday's game and is 5-5 in 2012 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 appearances and 11 starts. The Tigers have not announced a Sunday starter yet but a likely candidate is Kyle Crawford, who has made 12 starts.
Heading into the final weekend series of the year, the Matadors are solidifying their spots in numerous Top 10 lists. As a team, Cal State Northridge has a combined batting average of .259. The Matadors have hit the seventh most doubles (74) and are second in the league with 21 home runs. The 423 hits collected are seventh in the conference standings. The team ranks tied for fourth in the conference with 53 sacrifice bunts as well. The pitching staff ranks third in the Big West with 12 saves on the year and tied for fifth with three complete games.
Junior Brett Balkan has been hit by a pitch 12 times, which rank him tied for fifth in the conference. Senior Steven Keller checks in tied for third with five home runs. Freshman catcher Alexis Mercado ranks 11th in the league as he has caught six runners attempting to steal. Junior Kyle Attl is fifth in the conference as he has helped turn 31 double plays this season and he is also tied for seventh with four home runs and tied for ninth with eight sac bunts.
Individually, junior Marty Bowen ranks tied for eighth with eight runners caught stealing. Freshman Ryan Raslowsky ties with Attl at ninth with eight sacrifices. Sophomore outfielder Miles Williams is second in the league with six home runs. He has also drawn 17 walks and his 30 runs scored put him on the cusp of the Big West standings.
A group of Matador pitchers find themselves in the conference rankings as well. Junior Alex Muren is just outside the Top 10 with 84.0 innings pitched and ties for 14th in the league with five wins on the season. Freshmen Louis Cohen is fifth with six saves. Harley Holt has three saves, good for a 10th in the league. Cohen is seventh as he has finished 16 games on the mound for the Matadors and is also third in the Big West with 26 appearances in 2012. With seven wins, Cohen ties for fifth in the conference. Another freshman, Jerry Keel, is second in the league among starting pitchers with a 2.16 ERA, which puts him 47th in the nation. Keel also has six wins, good for a tie for ninth. All Big West statistics are current as of May 21.
Bad Moon Rising
Junior right-hander Alex Muren pitched a one-hitter in CSUN's win over Northwestern in the first game of a doubleheader on Feb. 25. He struck out three in seven innings and retired the final 12 hitters after allowing a single in the fourth. He earned his first victory of the season in Northridge's 6-4 Opening Day win over the Sacramento State Hornets. Against San Diego at the SDSU Aztec Invitational on Mar. 3, he struck out five batters in five innings of work. Muren then went 7.0 innings with three strikeouts in a win over Indiana on Mar. 10. He threw his first nine-inning complete game in a victory over St. Mary's on Mar. 23, striking out a career-high six hitters. Muren has pitched a team-high 84.0 innings and has 43 strikeouts and a 5.14 ERA. He is currently third on the pitching staff with five victories on the year.
Where There's a Williams, There's a Way
Sophomore Miles Williams currently has a .263 batting average and leads the squad with 30 runs scored and 24 RBIs. In the finale at Sacramento State, Williams blasted a three-run home run off the third story of the parking structure adjacent to John Smith Field. Against #22 UCLA, Williams threw out a runner at the plate trying to score in the second inning. In the final game of the SDSU Aztec Invitational at San Diego State, he hit a three-run home run with two outs in the top of the ninth. At LMU on Mar. 20, Williams drove in two runs and now has seven multi-RBI games. He also hit a two-run home run at #13 Cal State Fullerton and a three-run shot in a win over CSU Bakersfield on April 10. Williams led the team with a 3-for-6 day against Long Beach State, driving in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth on April 28.
Junior Cal Vogelsang has found his rythym on both sides of the ball and has climbed the leaderboard in the clubhouse offensively as he now has a .280 batting average. Vogelsang, who has seen time in both the outfield and at first and second base, leads the squad with 52 hits this season and has a triple. He has one home run and 17 RBIs on the year in 49 games played. Vogelsang had at one point a 12 game hitting streak, the longest this season for CSUN, and has the most multiple hit games on the team (14), including three hits on five occasions. In the series at UC Riverside Vogelsang had four hits, three of which were doubles, and added two hits and two RBIs in the finale against UC Irvine.
Junior shortstop Kyle Attl is hitting .226 going into the final stretch of the year. In addition to eight sacrifice bunts, which tie for the team lead, Attl leads with 10 doubles and has 22 RBIs while scoring 24 runs. He drove in his first run of the campaign with an RBI single against then-#22 UCLA in the team's home opener. Attl also had a double in the win against San Diego on Mar. 1 at the SDSU Aztec Invitational. In the Mar. 10 win over Indiana, he went 2-for-5 at the plate and scored four runs, two shy of tying the all-time mark for a single game in Northridge history. Attl went 2-for-3 at LMU on Mar. 20 and drove in a run while scoring two in the 12-1 victory. He hit a three-run homer at UC Santa Barbara on Apr. 6 to lead the Northridge attack and added home runs in the series finale win against No. 27 Cal Poly and against CSU Bakersfield on April 24. Attl had a pair of doubles and two RBIs in the series with UC Irvine and is third on the team with four homers.
The Keel Deal
Freshman left-hander Jerry Keel made a positive impact in his first career appearance over the opening weekend at Sacramento State. Coming in as a reliever, Keel pitched six innings and allowed one run while striking out four hitters. Although he gave up nine hits, Keel consistently worked out of trouble and forced the Hornets to strand nine runners on base. Keel pitched 5.0 innings in the finale against Northwestern on Feb. 26 and allowed one earned run with three strikeouts for the first win of his collegiate career. He pitched his first complete game for CSUN in a victory over then-No. 13 Cal State Fullerton on April 1, scattering nine hits and not allowing a run after the bottom of the first. For his work in the game, Keel was named as a Primetime Performer of the week by Collegiate Baseball 360, one of 16 players in the nation to earn the recognition. He also pitched in relief and picked up a win over CSU Bakersfield on April 24 and threw 7.0 innings in a no-decision against Long Beach State. Keel followed it up with an 8.0 inning, six strikeout game in a win at UC Riverside on May 5 and a 7.2 inning, six strikeout day in a win over UC Irvine on May 12. The Matadors have won all but one of Keel's starts in Big West play this season. Keel is 6-2 and has a team-best 2.16 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 2012.
Junior Adam Barry is building on the productive summer season he had last year, as he owns a .289 batting average with eight doubles, a triple and 22 RBIs. His batting average is good for third on the team. After leading his team to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League championship last summer and setting numerous individual league hitting records in the process, Barry was selected as a Third Team Summer Collegiate All-American Team by Perfect Game USA. In the series against Indiana (Mar. 9-11), Barry went 5-for-9 with four RBIs and two runs scored. He went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the win at LMU on Mar. 20. Barry cracked his first two career home runs in the span of a week in wins over Long Beach State (4/28) and UC Riverside (5/4). At CSU Bakersfield (5/22), Barry drove in CSUN's only run with a triple to left center in the top of the seventh inning.
Freshman Ryan Raslowsky and redshirt freshman Chester Pak have played key roles in nearly all of Northridge's walkoff victories this season. On February 25th against Northwestern, Raslowsky singled in the bottom of the 11th to move the winning run into scoring position before Pak singled to win the game. On April 10 against CSU Bakersfield, Northridge won in the bottom of the ninth as Raslowsky reached on a fielding error that scored Pak. In CSUN's next game, Raslowsky was again at the bat with Pak on third when he chopped a single over the head of the third baseman in the bottom of the 11th as Northridge beat No. 27 Cal Poly in the first game of a doubleheader on April 14. Nathan Ring stole third base and came around to score on an errant throw in the bottom of the 12th to give CSUN the win over Long Beach State on April 28. Ring then scored Raslowsky with a single in the bottom of the ninth to upend UC Irvine 5-4 on May 13.