NORTHRIDGE, Calif. –
Another season of Matador Baseball has come to a close with Cal State Northridge showing much improvement under head coach Matt Curtis. In Curtis' second year at the helm of the program, the Matadors reached 10 wins in Big West Conference play for the first time in a decade and won three league series in the process.
With 23 victories, Northridge matched its win total from 2011 and increased its winning percentage while finishing in a tie for sixth in the conference. The season started in mid-February with a series win at Sacramento State, a team that came within one game of a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Northridge opened its home season with a game against cross-town rival UCLA, one of two meetings against a Bruins team that reached the College World Series. In all, the Matadors faced three teams that appeared in the 2012 NCAA Tournament (Cal State Fullerton, San Diego, UCLA).
In the Matadors' second home game of the season, junior pitcher Alex Muren pitched a one-hitter in the first half of a doubleheader against Northwestern. It was the first recorded one-hitter in program history and Northridge would go on to win the second game and sweep the series the next day.
At the SDSU Aztec Invitational in San Diego, CSUN was able to knock off the University of San Diego Toreros behind the bat of Steven Keller, an All-Big West Honorable Mention. Keller blasted two home runs and drove in all four runs in a 4-3 win on March 1.
In Northridge's first conference series, freshman Jerry Keel led the Matadors to a Sunday win on the road at then-No. 13 Cal State Fullerton. Keel, a Freshman All-American and the Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year, pitched his first complete game and allowed just one run to the eventual conference champions. That game would be the first of six straight starts for Keel in which the Matadors would come out victorious.
The Matadors hosted the then-No. 27 Cal Poly Mustangs and were able to rally late to win the first game in extra innings. After the Mustangs scored three runs in the top of the ninth to take a lead, Northridge scored the tying run with two outs in the bottom half and Ryan Raslowsky singled home Chester Pak in the 11th for the win. Then, in the series finale, Kyle Attl drove in a pair of runs and homered as the Matadors took the series from the Mustangs and climbed up the standings.
Northridge won its first road Big West series in over eight seasons when it took two out of three from UC Riverside. The Matadors won the first two games and Keel, who also was named to the All-Big West Second Team, pitched eight innings to clinch the series on May 5. With the victory, CSUN won a series against the Highlanders for the first time since 2002 and only the second time since the two teams joined the Big West that same season.
The next weekend the Matadors won a series at home against UC Irvine, defeating the Anteaters in a game for the first time since 2008. The series victory was the first over UCI since the 2004 campaign. Northridge then won its 10th conference game on Senior Day as Keller hit a three-run home run to break a tie in the bottom of the eighth against UC Davis. Northridge had not won 10 Big West games in a season since the 2002 conference championship team went 19-5.
Northridge saw the emergence of numerous players on the team, led by Keel with a 6-3 record and a 2.07 ERA with 48 strikeouts. Redshirt freshman Louis Cohen led the staff with a 7-2 record and also recorded six saves, which tie him for fourth in a single season in CSUN history and eighth in career saves (6).
Offensively, sophomore Miles Williams led the way with six home runs, 25 RBIs and 31 runs scored. Keller wrapped up his senior season at Northridge with a batting average of .287, five home runs and eight doubles.
Junior Cal Vogelsang led the team with 11 doubles and was a utility player for the Matadors, spending time at first base and in the outfield. He recorded 55 hits and also tallied a triple and a home run. His .278 batting average tied with freshman Ryan Raslowsky, who spent much of his time as the leadoff hitter and scored 18 runs.
All in all, the 2012 Matadors compiled a season full of improvement both offensively and defensively and set the program up for continued success in 2013.