NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors will conclude their season-long 10-game road trip this week with a three-game weekend series at Sacramento State. Northridge opened the 2012 season at Sacramento State, taking two of the three games at John Smith Field. This year, the series marks the final non-conference road games before the Matadors open up Big West Conference action at the end of the month. All three games at Sacramento State will feature live stats coverage and a free audio broadcast courtesy of Sacramento State Athletics.
GAMES #14-16: Northridge Matadors (5-8) at Sacramento State Hornets (7-5)
Friday, March 8 - 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 - 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 10 - 12 p.m.
John Smith Field (1,200) - Sacramento, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
Audio: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page, Audio Provided by Sacramento State
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.
The Matadors are coming off of the most grueling week of play in the Matt Curtis Era. CSUN played a total of six games in six days against a pair of Pac-12 teams and did so in mostly wet conditions with temperatures in the low 40s. Northridge played a four-game series at Washington State before a two-game set at then-No. 15 Oregon.
The Matadors were able to take one game on the road trip by winning the finale at Washington State on Sunday. Miles Williams hit a three-run home run and Nathan Ring added a solo shot in a five-run third inning for Northridge to give them the lead for good. Brandon Warner pitched 6.0 strong innings in his first start of the year and recorded two strikeouts to get the victory while Joshua Goossen-Brown tossed a scoreless ninth inning for his first save of 2013.
At Oregon, Williams homered in the first game to extend his streak to three consecutive games with a home run. He became the first Matador since 2011 to homer in consecutive games and brings his streak into this weekend's series at Sacramento State.
A Closer Look at Sacramento State
The Sacramento State Hornets enter the weekend series with a record of 7-5 and a mark of 5-3 at John Smith Field. The Hornets are coming off of a 14-0 win at UC Davis on Tuesday and have scored more than 10 runs in consecutive games, both victories. The only series the Hornets have dropped came on the opening weekend of the year when they lost two out of three at Texas.
Seven players for Sacramento State have started in every game this season and another has started in all but one. David Del Grande leads the Hornets offensively with a .348 batting average and eight RBIs. He also leads the squad with 11 runs scored and is one of four Hornets with a home run this season. Chris Lewis is second among regular starters with a .283 batting average and also has six RBIs.
Ty Nichols will get the start for Sacramento State on Friday afternoon. The right hander has made two starts so far this season and is 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA. He is third on the team with nine strikeouts and was part of one of the two combined shutouts the pitching staff has turned in this year.
Brennan Leitao is set to start on Saturday and has been the workhorse for the Hornets in the early part of the season. Leitao is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four appearances (three starts). He is tied for the staff lead with 11 strikeouts and also has a save in 20.0 innings of work. He has pitched 4.2 innings more than the next pitcher on the team. No starter has been announced for Sunday's finale, but the job could go to either Tanner Mendonca (0-2, 4.91 ERA) or Zach Morgan (1-1, 5.28 ERA).
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
Now with three weekends under their belts, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank among the statistical leaders in the Big West Conference's third standings release of the year. Northridge currently is ninth in team batting average (.256) and is seventh with a .340 slugging percentage. The Matadors rank sixth in the conference with 60 runs scored and are tied for sixth with 110 hits recorded. Northridge has the eighth-best on base percentage (.342) and is seventh with 52 runs batted in. The Matadors are tied for eigth in the league with 15 doubles and are second with seven home runs.
Defensively, Cal State Northridge's pitching staff has propelled the team to rankings among the top half in multiple categories. Northridge has the seventh-best earned run average (4.50) and is fifth in strikeouts with 88. The pitching staff is first in the league with 37 strikeouts looking and is eighth with five wins. The Matadors rank eighth for hits allowed at 127 and are fifth with 64 runs allowed this season.
Individually, Kyle Attl ranks 10th in the Big West with a .366 batting average and is ninth with a .469 on base percentage. Miles Williams is tied for second with 14 RBIs and leads the conference with four home runs. Cal Vogelsang is tied for seventh with three sac bunts and ties for first first with two sac flies. He also is tied for sixth with four doubles. Nathan Ring is currently the league leader with 11 walks drawn. Joshua Goossen-Brown is tied for first in the league with a 1.000 fielding percentage and has had 84 chances in the field.
Pitcher Jerry Keel is tied for third with seven strikeouts looking while teammate Calvin Copping is second in that category with eight. Copping also ties for ninth in the conference with 16 strikeouts overall. All stats are current as of the morning of March 7 and include all games through March 6.
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. In a start at Washington State, he went 7.2 innings with five strikeouts and allowed just two runs. Keel currently has a 2.75 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched.
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 against Saint Mary's. During the road trip to Washington State and Oregon, Williams hit a home run in three consecutive games, becoming the first Matadors with a homer in at least back-to-back games since 2011. After leading the Matadors with six home runs and 25 RBIs last season, Williams already has a team-high four roundtrippers and 14 RBIs through 12 games played.
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 three weeks of the year. He has a hit in seven of the nine games he has played in this year and leads the team with four 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, was hit by a pitch and walked once. He scored four runs in the opening series to lead all Matadors and drove in a career-high four runs in Northridge's extra-inning victory at USC on February 22. On the year, Vogelsang is hitting .258 with nine RBIs and six runs scored.
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. During the trip to Washington State and Oregon, Attl drove in his first two runs of the campaign while getting a hit in five of the six games. He is currently second on the team with a .366 batting average through 13 games. Attl tied for second on the team in runs scored last season and now has 49 in his career at Northridge. On the year, Attl has scoed seven runs and has a stolen base. He is currently 10th in the Big West in batting average and is ninth with a .469 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 second on the team with two doubles through the first 13 games and now has 17 in his career. He also went 2-for-4 with a run scored in a home loss to USC and in the finale at then-No. 15 Oregon, Simis led the Matadors with a 2-for-3 day at the plate.
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. Pak went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the opener at then-No. 15 Oregon and is now batting .243 with five RBIs and two stolen bases in 11 games played.
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. In the win at USC, Goossen-Brown pitched 3.0 scoreless innings in relief to pick up the win and also drove in two runs and scored a pair of his own as the Matadors scored eight unanswered runs to win 9-4 in 11 innings. Goossen-Brown pitched a scoreless ninth inning at Washington State to record his first save of the season as the Matadors won 5-3. He now also has 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, five wings and six saves in his career at CSUN.
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 nine times in his career. At Washington State, he drove in his first run of the year by hitting his first career home run. On the season, Mercado has five runs scored, two doubles and a homer.
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 No. 15 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) were 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.
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.