NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
On the heels of a season-long 10-game road trip, the Cal State Northridge Matadors finally return home to Matador Field this week. The Matadors host the No. 11 UCLA Bruins on Tuesday, March 12, in their only action of the week. The game will be the first of seven straight for CSUN at home, as the Matadors will also host CSU Bakersfield, Utah Valley University and San Diego before Big West Conference play opens at the end of the month. The Matadors are looking for their first win in the series against UCLA since the 2008 season when they took a 4-0 decision at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
GAME #17: Northridge Matadors (6-10) vs. No. 11 UCLA Bruins (11-3)
Tuesday, March 12 - 3 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available on Baseball Schedule Page
Audio: 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.
The Matadors completed their 10-game road trip this past weekend with a three-game series at Sacramento State. Northride was nearly able to win the opener on Friday but ultimately fell in the bottom of the ninth. Kyle Attl, Tommy Simis and Alexis Mercado each doubled in the game for CSUN and the Matadors posted three runs in the fourth inning but fell 4-3.
On Saturday, the Matadors rebounded with a late rally to even the series at a game apiece. Trailing 3-1, Northridge strung together five consecutive singles to open the top of the eighth inning and eventually scored four runs to earn a 5-3 win. Simis went 3-for-4 at the plate, Nathan Ring had a single and the Matadors picked up the victory without the benefit of an extra-base hit. Harley Holt earned the victory in relief and Joshua Goossen-Brown notched his second save of the year.
On Sunday, Northridge jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first but the Hornets scored four in the bottom half and never looked back. CSUN dropped the finale 8-6 and now heads home for its next seven games.
A Closer Look at No. 11 UCLA
The 11th-ranked UCLA Bruins bring a record of 11-3 into the midweek game against the Matadors and have won eight of their last 10. The Bruins dropped a game this past weekend at home to then-No. 17 Oklahoma but collected wins against Notre Dame and USC.
Trent Chatterton leads the Bruins with a .379 batting average in 10 games played and has two doubles, four RBIs and 10 runs scored. Brian Carroll has started every game for UCLA and is batting .354 with 17 hits, one triple and six RBIs. He leads the team with 12 stolen bases.
Kevin Kramer and Pat Valaika are the slugging threats for UCLA through the first month of action. Kramer is hitting .347 with five doubles and 16 RBIs while Valaika has a .296 average with six doubles, a home run and 14 RBIs. No other Bruin has driven in more than eight
Right-handed pitcher Cody Poteet is the probable starter for UCLA on Tuesday afternoon. Poteet will make his third start and seventh appearance on the season. He is currently 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in 15.0 innings of work. Poteet has 12 strikeouts on the year and has allowed nine runs (seven earned) and 11 hits in 2013.
Following the midweek game at Northridge, UCLA will open up Pac-12 conference play with a series at home against Washington this weekend.
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
Now with nearly a month under their belts, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank among the statistical leaders in the Big West Conference's fourth standings release of the year. Northridge currently is eighth in team batting average (.257) and is seventh with a .335 slugging percentage. The Matadors rank sixth in the conference with 74 runs scored and with 135 hits recorded. Northridge has the seventh-best on base percentage (.340) and is seventh with 65 runs batted in. The Matadors are eigth in the league with 20 doubles and are third 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 (4.72) and is tied for fourth in strikeouts with 105. The pitching staff is first in the league with 41 strikeouts looking and is tied for seventh with six wins. The Matadors rank seventh for hits allowed at 160 and are sixth with 80 runs allowed this season.
Individually, Miles Williams is tied for fifth with 14 RBIs and leads the conference with four home runs. Cal Vogelsang is tied for eighth with three sac bunts and ties for third with two sac flies. He also is tied for 10th with four doubles. Nathan Ring is currently the third in the Big West with 11 walks drawn and is ninth with a .449 on base percentage. He is also fourth with four stolen bases. Tommy Simis is tied for fifth in the conference with four sacrifice bunts. Joshua Goossen-Brown is tied for first in the league with a 1.000 fielding percentage and has had 84 chances in the field. He also ties for third with a pair of sacrifice flies on the year.
Pitcher Jerry Keel is third with nine strikeouts looking while teammate Calvin Copping is fourth in that category with eight. Keel also ranks ninth with 26.1 innings pitched thus far and Goossen-Brown checks in a fourth with a pair of saves. All stats are current as of the morning of March 11 and include all games through March 10.
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. He added six strikeouts in 6.2 innings at Sacramento State in his most recent start. Keel currently has a 2.73 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 26.1 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 15 games played.
He's a Ringer!
Senior outfielder Nathan Ring has been the lightning rod for the Matadors both offensively and defensively of late. Through 16 games, Ring is second on the team with a .345 batting average and is tied for second on the squad with eight runs scored. He has already belted two home runs this season, which also ranks second. With 28 total bases, Ring has the most of any Matador and he has three more walks than any other teammate at 11. Ring ranks second on the team with four stolen bases while also collecting a team high 20 hits. In the series at Sacramento State, Ring had five hits, four runs scored, three RBIs and two steals. In 23 chances in the outfield this year, Ring has not committed an error and has two defensive assists to his credit. Ring is the only Matador to have reached base in all 16 games so far in 2013.
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 third on the team with a .327 batting average through 16 games. Attl tied for second on the team in runs scored last season and now has 51 in his career at Northridge. On the year, Attl has scoed a team-leading nine runs and has a stolen base.
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, 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 third on the team with three doubles through his first 15 games played and now has 18 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. In the win at Sacramento State, Simis went 3-for-4 with a run scored and matched his career mark for hits in a game.
Not a One-Man WolfPak
Sophomore Chester Pak is transitioning nicely into his role as the team's starting right fielder in his second full season. 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 .245 with five RBIs and three stolen bases in 14 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 19 RBIs, 26 runs scored, five wins and seven 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 six runs scored, four 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 has already endured an early-season road trip that saw the team play 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.