Cal State Northridge Squares Off Against USC in Split Weekend Series
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors will play their first road game of the season this week when they split a series with the USC Trojans. The Matadors were slated to play a home-and-home series with CSU Bakersfield last week but both games were postponed due to weather. The Matadors are looking to keep the momentum they built with a series win over Saint Mary's on Opening Weekend. Northride and USC will open the series on Friday night at Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles and will play Saturday's game at Matador Field in Northridge. The finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday in Los Angeles.
GAMES #5-7: Northridge Matadors (3-1) vs. USC Trojans (2-2)
Friday, February 22 - 6 p.m. (Dedeaux Field)
Saturday, February 23 - 1 p.m. (Matador Field)
Sunday, February 24 - 1 p.m. (Dedeaux Field)
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.
Dedeaux Field (2,500) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
Video (Friday Only): Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
In-game Twitter Updates: @CSUNBaseball
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home games this season will include live stats coverage and selected contests will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road games, related links to the game, including for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the game on the baseball schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athletics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) and the baseball-specific feed (@CSUNBaseball) for updates of games in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
Opening Weekend Recap
Cal State Northridge opened up the 2013 with a four-game series against the Saint Mary's Gaels last weekend at Matador Field. After shutting out the Gaels 5-0 on Opening Day, the Matadors were able to earn a doubleheader split on Saturday. Northridge then clinched the series with an 8-3 win on Sunday and improved to 3-1 for the first time since the 2007 campaign.
On Opening Day, sophomore Jerry Keel pitched seven strong innings and struck out a career-high seven to earn the win. Brandon Warner pitched two perfect innings to finish the game and struck out the side in the ninth to give CSUN its first shutout victory since 2011. Miles Williams and Nate Ring each hit a home run in the doubleheader on Saturday and Joshua Goossen-Brown had a pair of three-hit games on the weekend.
On Sunday, freshman Calvin Copping shined in his collegiate debut. Copping pitched 6.1 innings and struck out five to pick up the win in his first career appearance for the Matadors.
A Closer Look at USC
The USC Trojans bring a record of 2-2 into this weekend and have yet to play a traditional series against the same opponent. The Trojans and Matadors have not faced each other since 2009 when Northridge won the series 2-1 after taking both games played at Matador Field.
USC opened the season with back-to-back losses at the hands of Cal State Fullerton and CSU Bakersfield, both on the road. The Trojans rebounded, however, with a win over Nebraska on February 17 and a victory over Loyola Marymount on February 20. Both wins came by a one-run margin. In fact, three of the four games USC has played in this year have been decided by one run.
The Trojans are led offensively by Vahn Bozoian, who has compiled a .556 batting average (5-for-9) in three games this year. Greg Zebrack is batting .214 with a
double and home run and leads the team with three RBIs. Of the Trojans that have started every game, Kevin Swick has the highest average at .333 (4-for-12) and the most runs scored (3).
USC will likely send left-handed pitcher Bob Wheatley to the mound for Friday's opener. Wheatley has made one start this season already and is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 5.1 innings of work. He has walked three batters while striking out one. On Saturday, right-handed pitcher Wyatt Strahan will get the start. Strahan will be making his second start of the year and is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 5.0 innings. Left-handed pitcher Kyle Twomey will start for USC on Sunday and brings in a record of 0-0 and a 4.26 ERA.
Following the series with Northridge this weekend, the Trojans will take on Long Beach State on February 26 before traveling to Fresno State for a three-game series next week. The Matadors will embark on a nine-game road trip that will take the team to Washington State (four games), Oregon (two) and Sacramento State (three).
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
After going 3-1 to open up the 2013 season, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank among the statistical leaders in the Big West Conference's first standings release of the year. Northridge currently has the third highest team batting average (.328) and is also third with a .454 slugging percentage. The Matadors rank second in the conference with 27 runs scored and are third with 39 hits recorded. Northridge has the third-best on base percentage (.418) and is third with 22 runs batted in. The Matadors lead the league with nine doubles and are tied for third with two home runs.
Defensively, Cal State Northridge's pitching staff has propelled the team to rankings among the top three in multiple categories. Northridge has the lowest opposing batting average (.200) and is second in strikeouts with 31. The pitching staff leads the league with 17 strikeouts looking and is tied for second with three wins. The Matadors rank second for hits allowed with 24, just one more than the conference best.
Individually, Kyle Attl ranks tied for seventh in the Big West with a .444 batting average and is ninth with a .545 on base percentage. Tommy Simis is seventh in the league with a .625 slugging percentage and Miles Williams is tied for fourth with five runs batted in. Cal Vogelsang checks in at fifth with four runs scored, third with two sac bunts and first with two sac flies. Nathan Ring drew five walks last weekend to take the top spot in the conference. Joshua Goossen-Brown is the league leader with a 1.000 fielding percentage in 38 chances. He holds the top spot with five more chances than the next fielder.
Pitcher Jerry Keel is tied for the league-lead with a 0.00 ERA and seven strikeouts. He and teammate Calvin Copping are tied for first in the Big West with four strikeouts looking. Keel also ranks eighth with a .167 opposing batting average while Copping sits fifth in that category at .130. All stats are current as of February 18.
That's Gold, Jerry! Gold!
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Jerry Keel is off to a quick start for the Matadors in 2013. Keel pitched seven shutout innings on Opening Day in a 5-0 win over Saint Mary's. He set a career high with seven strikeouts and did not allow a walk. Keel, the reigning Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year, conceded just four hits all afternoon and has now pitched 98.1 consecutive innings without a wild pitch. Keel currently leads the league in ERA and strikeouts while also tying for the top spot with four strikeouts looking.
Big Williams Style
Junior Miles Williams had a productive weekend at the plate for the Matadors in the season-opening series against Saint Mary's. In addition to hitting a home run, Williams doubled, scored twice and drove in five runs. The team's leading returner in terms of RBIs and home runs, Williams was also hit by a pitch three times to help Northridge get base runners in key situations. He drove in four runs across the two games of a doubleheader on Saturday and now has eight home runs and 35 RBIs in his career for CSUN.
Senior Cal Vogelsang is proving that he is a multi-tool player that will help the Matadors on both sides of the ball this season. After leading the team in hits last season, Vogelsang is among the leaders on the team after the first series of the year. He is one of two Matadors with a hit in all four games this year and is also tied for the lead with two doubles. In addition to getting himself aboard, he has helped CSUN runners ahead of him advance and score. In the four games against Saint Mary's, Vogelsang recorded two sacrifice bunts and two sac flies. He also stole a base and was hit by a pitch and walked once. He scored four runs in the opening series to lead all Matadors.
Attl Do, Kyle, Attl Do
Senior shortstop Kyle Attl, the infield leader for CSUN, helped the team win on Opening Day against Saint Mary's with both his bat and glove. Attl recorded three defensive assists in the game and went 1-for-3 with a double and run scored as the Matadors won 5-0. He went 1-for-1 in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader with a run scored, then went 2-for-4 with a run in the 8-3 victory in Sunday's finale. He is currently second on the team with a .444 batting average through four games. Attl tied for second on the team in runs scored last season and now has 45 in his career at Northridge. He is currently tied for seventh in batting average and is ninth with a .545 on base percentage.
Breathing a Simis of Relief
Senior Tommy Simis started a pair of games at second base during the opening series against Saint Mary's and produced offensively for the Matadors. In the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Simis went 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI double and followed it up with a 2-for-4 outing with a double and an RBI in the second game. He is tied for the team lead with two doubles through the first four games and now has 17 in his career. Simis currently ranks seventh in the Big West with a .625 slugging percentage.
Not A One-Man Wolfpak
Sophomore Chester Pak is transitioning nicely into his role as the team's starting right fielder and leadoff hitter. In the Opening Day win over Saint Mary's, Pak went 2-for-5 at the plate with a double, run scored and two RBIs. Late in the game, Pak also made a spectacular jumping catch to keep the hitter from certain extra bases. He had a hit in all four games of the opening series, one of two players on the team to do so. Pak recorded at least one RBI in all but one game of the series and also scored three runs and had a stolen base.
The Bull Market
Sophomore Alexis Mercado performed well in his first weekend as the team's starting catcher. Mercado caught three of the four games during the series against Saint Mary's and hit .300 at the plate. He hit a double and scored three runs to bring his career totals to four and eight, respectively. In the Opening Day win, Mercado also cut down a runner trying to steal and has now caught a runner stealing eight times in his career.
The Goose is Back
Junior Joshua Goossen-Brown put any concerns to rest with his performance in CSUN's opening-weekend series against Saint Mary's. After missing the 2012 season with an injury, Goossen-Brown returned to his familiar spot at first base and turned in a pair of three-hit games at the plate in the series. In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, he went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Then, in the series finale on Sunday, he again went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored in an 8-3 victory. Goossen-Brown matched career-highs for RBIs and hits in a game both days. He now has 13 RBIs and 21 runs scored in his career at CSUN.
With a 5-0 victory over Saint Mary's on Feb. 15, the Matadors have won on Opening Day for the fourth straight season. In head coach Matt Curtis' first game at CSUN, the Matadors posted a 2-0 victory over Seattle University in 2011 and went on to beat Sacramento State 6-4 on Opening Day last year. Northridge also defeated Bethune-Cookman in a neutral site game to open 2010. The last CSUN loss on Opening Day came to then-No. 8 Pepperdine in 2009, and the Matadors have not lost a home opener since the 2008 campaign. Through 53 seasons on the diamond, the Matadors own a 32-20-2 mark in season openers. Northridge is an impressive 36-18 in its first home game of the season is 25-25-3 in road openers.
Northridge has brought in a number of new faces to the program this year, including five transfers. Shay Maltese, Michael Coates, Kyle Ferramola, John Salas and Brycen Rutherford all bring in previous experience from junior college, while CSUN also sees the return of redshirt Joshua Goossen-Brown, who missed the 2012 season due to injury. In addition, the Matadors welcome 10 freshmen to the squad that look to get action in their first season with Northridge. In total, CSUN has added three infielders, 11 pitchers, a catcher and an outfielder to give more depth and strength to the program. Many of the rookies on the team this season can also be used in other positions, adding versatility to the lineup as well.
The Matadors have put together another challenging schedule and will face four programs that competed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. A grueling non-conference slate includes series against cross-town rivals USC and UCLA as well as a four-game set at home against Utah Valley, a team that won 47 games and went 28-0 in conference play last season. Northridge will endure an early-season road trip that sees the team playing six games in six days at Washington State and Oregon before a day off and a weekend series at Sacramento State. The Matadors will play a home-and-home series against San Diego and will host Washington. Northridge's Big West season gets underway on March 28 at Long Beach State. Five opponents (UCLA, Oregon, San Diego, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine) are ranked in the Preseason Top 30 by Collegiate Baseball. Northridge ranked 17th for strength of schedule by Boyd's World and also has the eighth toughest non-conference schedule.