NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
After a rainstorm forced the postponement of a scheduled midweek series between the two schools in February, the Cal State Northridge Matadors and CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners will finally begin their season series on Tuesday at Matador Field in Northridge. The Matadors are in the midst of a seven-game home stand to end their non-conference slate before Big West Conference play gets underway at the end of the month. Last season, Northridge took two games against the Roadrunners at Matador Field before dropping the final meeting at Hardt Field in Bakersfield last May.
GAME #18: Northridge Matadors (6-11) vs. CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (14-6)
Tuesday, March 19 - 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 returned home last week and played just one game, a Tuesday meeting against cross-town rival UCLA. Then ranked No. 11 in the country, the Bruins were able to escape Matador Field with a narrow 5-4 win. UCLA scored the first two runs of the game in the top of the third inning before the Matadors responded to gain control.
In the home half of the third, Kyle Attl drove in a run with a single before Miles Williams launched a three-run home run over the trees in left field. The homer was his fifth of the season and the junior now has a team-high 17 RBIs on the year. The Bruins scratched across single runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth, however, in order to eke out the victory.
Junior John Salas started the game for the Matadors and struck out four in four innings of work. Overall, Northridge was unable to overcome six errors and three unearned runs on the day. After the game against UCLA last Tuesday, the Matadors had the weekend off and enter this week with a seven days since their last game.
A Closer Look at CSU Bakersfield
The CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners enter the week with a record of 14-6 through their first 20 games. The Roadrunners are 4-1 in their last five and are coming off of a four-game sweep of Northern Colorado at Hardt Field last weekend. Overall, CSUB has not lost a series yet this season but is 1-2 in Tuesday games.
Tyler Shryock leads the Roadrunners with a .416 batting average and 37 hits. He also has three doubles, a triple, nine RBIs and 13 runs scored. Cael Brockmeyer has provided the power for CSUB so far and leads the team with three triples, two home runs, 20 RBIs and 19 runs scored. Brockmeyer has started every game and is hitting .350.
As a team, CSU Bakersfield has outscored opponents 124-65 and is hitting .312.
The Roadrunners will start left-handed pitcher Taylor Aikenhead on Tuesday. Aikenhead will make his ninth appearance and fourth start of the season for the club against the Matadors. He is currently 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA and one save in 26.2 innings of work. He has recorded 22 strikeouts while allowing just eight walks and 10 of the 14 runs he has allowed are earned.
Following the midweek game against CSUN on Tuesday, the Roadrunners travel to Sacramento State to open up Western Athletic Conference play this weekend.
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
Now with a month under their belts, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank among the statistical leaders in the Big West Conference's fifth standings release of the year. Northridge currently is seventh in team batting average (.249) and slugging percentage (.328). The Matadors rank seventh in the conference with 78 runs scored and are ninth with 138 hits recorded. Northridge has the seventh-best on base percentage (.335) and is seventh with 69 runs batted in. The Matadors are 10 in the league with 20 doubles and are third with eight 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 sixth-best earned run average (4.55) and is also sixth in strikeouts with 112. The pitching staff is third in the league with 46 strikeouts looking and is tied for eigth with six wins. The Matadors rank sixth for hits allowed at 169 and are fourth with 85 runs allowed this season.
Individually, Miles Williams is tied for fourth with 17 RBIs and leads the conference with five home runs. Cal Vogelsang is tied for ninth with three sac bunts and ties for third with two sac flies. Nathan Ring is currently tied for fourth in the Big West with 11 walks drawn and is sixth with four stolen bases. Tommy Simis is tied for second in the conference with five sacrifice bunts. Joshua Goossen-Brown is tied for first in the league with a 1.000 fielding percentage and has had 85 chances in the field. He also ties for third with a pair of sacrifice flies on the year.
Pitcher Jerry Keel is tied for second in the conference with 10 strikeouts looking while teammate Calvin Copping is tied for seventh in that category with eight. Keel also ranks just outside the Top 10 with 27.0 innings pitched thus far and Goossen-Brown checks in a seventh with a pair of saves. All stats are current as of the morning of March 18 and include all games through March 17.
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 2.67 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 27.0 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 five roundtrippers and 17 RBIs through 16 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 17 games, Ring is second on the team with a .323 batting average and is tied for third 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 ranks second on the team and he has three more walks than any other teammate at 11. Ring leads the 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 25 chances in the outfield this year, Ring has not committed an error and has two defensive assists to his credit. Ring has reached base in all but one game 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 .321 batting average through 17 games. Attl tied for second on the team in runs scored last season and now has 52 in his career at Northridge. On the year, Attl has scoed a team-leading 10 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 16 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 .235 with five RBIs and three stolen bases in 15 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.