Feb. 18, 2010
Friday, Feb. 19 Northridge vs. Bethune-Cookman MLB Urban Invitational at the MLB Urban Youth Academy Compton, Calif. 2:00 p.m. PDT GameTracker
Saturday, Feb. 20 Northridge vs. Southern MLB Urban Invitational at the MLB Urban Youth Academy Compton, Calif. 2:00 p.m. PDT Televised on the MLB Network and online at MLB.com
Sunday, Feb. 21 Northridge at UCLA Jackie Robinson Stadium Westwood, Calif. 2:00 p.m. PDT GameTracker
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Although Matador baseball finished eighth in the Big West Conference last season, they march into this season with high hopes and a number of reasons to look forward to a realistic run towards the top of the standings in 2010.
With a total of 21 returning letterwinners, including six starters and a recruiting class that ranked 40th in the nation, the 2010 Matador roster has a unique blend of youth and experience that is ready to compete against any team within the Big West Conference.
Despite being picked to again finish eighth in the conference preseason poll this season, the Matadors showed signs of stellar play last season with one of the youngest teams in the nation.
With notable wins over nationally-ranked teams including Pepperdine, San Jose State, UC Santa Barbara, and a 15-inning marathon walk-off win over national power Cal State Fullerton, Northridge displayed a never-say-die attitude all season long. CSUN compiled eleven victories when trailing after six innings and totaled seven walk-off hits.
A number of pitchers return for another shot at the title the season for Head Coach Steve Rousey; a sign that should encourage all Matador baseball fans. In 2009, once Northridge took the lead in any game, more often then not there was no looking back.
Northridge held an impressive 13-4 record last season when they possessed the lead after three innings, a 15-1 record with the lead after six, and an astonishing 18-1 mark when possessing the advantage on the scoreboard after eight.
The Matadors did lose key contributors from last year, most notably outfielder Richard Cates, catcher John Parham, and relief pitchers Brian Slover and P.J. Rousey, however they do return key offensive power hitters Ryan Pineda and Dominic D'Anna, in addition to durable relief pitcher Jimmy Jolicoeur, who is expected to serve as the team's primary closer.
Joining the multitude of returners will be another top-40 recruiting class that provides an added layer of depth to an already talented bench as coach Rousey fully expects his newest additions to make a successful and positive contribution to the team once the season begins.
The Matadors pitching staff consists of several returners and a handful of skilled newcomers that will have opportunities to display their talents this season. Their co-leaders in wins (7), Ryan Juarez and Paul Tremlin return to the diamond this season, including workhorses Billy Ott and Jolicoeur, who each finished in the top five on the team in strikeouts.
Juarez (7-5) tied for the team-lead in wins last year in his 14 starts during his sophomore season as the Matadors' primary Friday starter. He quickly became the team's most reliable starting pitcher, throwing the most innings (84.2), while sporting a 4.89 ERA.
Tremlin thrived as a utility pitcher for Coach Rousey last season, pitching primarily in relief but on occasion making spot starts. As a sophomore, he compiled an impressive 7-1 record, striking out 43 batters in 47.2 innings of work.
Seniors Jolicoeur and Ott each will be depended upon again to anchor the Matador pitching staff with their experience and maturity gained throughout their college career at CSUN. A starter earlier in his collegiate career, Jolicoeur (2-4) pitched entirely last year out of the bullpen, making 29 relief appearances, tied for the most on the team. The hurler pitched 36.2 innings last season, striking out 39 batters, while saving two games in 2009. As the most experienced pitcher in the bullpen, Jolicoeur will be called upon late to close many potential Matador wins, serving as the primary reliever out of the `pen..
Ott (1-4) appeared in 17 games last season, starting on ten occasions, and finished last season with the second-highest number of innings pitched on the team. The right-handed pitched 75.2 innings of work as a starter and as a reliever, striking out a team-high 51 batters in the process.
Other returning pitchers include seniors Davin Tate and Bryan Longpre, who each pitched in 14 outings for CSUN last season pitching 24.2 and 25.2 innings respectively, junior Justen Gorski (1-4) who appeared in 13 games, starting in five and pitched a total of 34 innings, and sophomore Chris DeBoo who made seven relief appearances and sported an outstanding 1.86 ERA in his freshman season.
Muren missed the entire `09 season due to injury, and is excited to return to the mound after pitching five innings - he allowed zero earned runs his freshman season - in 2008.
Wright pitched six innings over three appearances and he picked up a victory last season, his first as a member of the red and black, as he also looks to utilize the wisdom gaines from his experiences as a freshman to his advantage in 2010.
A total of five newcomers will be on the pitching staff, including three southpaws in Trevor Fredrickson, Jacob Petersen and Bennett Parry, along with right-hander Alex Muren make up the pitching staff of the incoming recruiting class and are all skilled student athletes who will battle one another for playing time throughout this season. Another newcomer is Shawn Wilyman, a junior transfer, who has two years under his belt pitching for Taft College.
At catcher, the Matadors have many options to choose from due to the departure of graduating senior Parham. Despite losing a steady bat and a leader on and off the field, the Matadors will turn to new faces to fill the void. Among their crop of catchers, are three newcomers, Connor Rhoads, Dominic Piazza, Marty Bowen and junior Patrick Castillo who will each try to lock up the starting position behind the dish this spring. Rhoads and Piazza each have experience on the collegiate level, as they are junior transfers from Irvine Valley College and Yavapai College respectively, while Bowen is a true freshman out of El Camino High School.
Around the diamond the Matadors will resemble last year's team at many positions, but will get a boost with the return of junior D'Anna, who missed nearly half of the Big West Conference schedule because of a season-ending injury.
At first base, D'Anna will look to pick up where he left off last year when he posted the highest slugging percentage on the team (.587), the second-highest team totals in RBI (32), doubles (13) and home runs (7). D'Anna also hit .326 and had an on base percentage of .410, each totals that were third best on the team. On the defensive side, he posted a team-leading .989 fielding percentage.
At second base will be Pineda, who is coming off an outstanding sophomore season. Pineda hit .294 and led the team in home runs (10) and runs batted in (44). He also had 14 doubles, scored 38 times, and had 63 total hits, including a team-high 16 game winning streak that took place early in the season.
The Matadors will rely on familiar faces in TS Reed, Jason Dabbs and Tommy Simis to protect the middle portion of the diamond. Reed was the starting shortstop for a majority of the season before suffering an injury that cut short his season. The junior hit .234, drove in nine RBI and scored 20 runs.
Dabbs and Simis each filled the void at short and will again be in the running for time in the field this season. Dabbs, now a senior, hit .256 at the plate, drove in 19 RBI and scored 14 runs with Simis hitting .258 in his first year at CSUN..
Third baseman, Justin DeMarco is in his third year at Northridge. Last season DeMarco had a .251 batting average, 18 RBI, 43 hits and two home runs. Other infielders who will be vying for time are newcomers Brad Decater, a junior transfer from Cuesta College, freshmen Chris Allen, Kyle Attl, Nate Ring, and Matt Sanchez who look to bring their collective skills and experiences to the diamond once the season commences.
At outfield, the Matadors will be looking to fill spaces left by Cates and Jeff Pruitt, two of the five Matadors that signed with a MLB organization in 2009. With each position up for grabs, the Matadors turn to a mix of veteran and newcomers.
C.J. Belanger is the most experienced outfielder for Northridge, as he played in 53 games last season during his junior year. He had a .227 average, 11 RBI, a team-high seven sacrifice bunts and two triples.
Despite limited playing time, Todd Eskelin finished second on the team in several categories including batting average (.333), slugging percentage (.579), on base percentage (.433) and triples (2). Reserve outfielder, Billy Swanson may also get some time in the outfield this season. Swanson hit .227 at the plate, had three RBI and scored twice.
Ridge Carpenter, a junior transfer from Hartnell College, and freshman Christian Allen (who will also double as the backup first baseman behind D'Anna) are the two new Matador outfielders who possess the intangibles needed to successfully cover the real estate at Matador Field.
Belanger, a regular contributor in the outfield last season, will look to end his collegiate career on a positive note, leaving the other two positions up for grabs.
Northridge will open up their 2010 schedule in Compton for the MLB Urban Invitational against Bethune-Cookman and Southern on consecutive days on February 19th and 20th respectively, with the latter being broadcasted nationwide on MLB Network. CSUN will conclude tournament play in Westwood that Sunday as the men in red travel to Jackie Robinson Stadium to face the UCLA Bruins for the first time in two years.
After a trip down I-5 to San Diego to face the Toreros, the Matadors will host Pepperdine in their home opener for the first of a home and home three game series with the Waves. Starting with their home opener, the Matadors will have an opportunity to take advantage of a home-friendly schedule as seven of eight games played over a two-week period will take place at Matador Field.
After facing Pepperdine in Northridge for two of their three games, the Matadors will take on Connecticut in a four game series before facing East Carolina in a one-off contest.
Northridge will then travel to Loyola Marymount for back-to-back games on the road, their first road contests in 11 days, before returning to the Valley to wrap-up their series against the Lions.
Northridge will welcome UNLV back to Matador Field for one home game before participating in their first of two out-of-state road trips this season when they travel to Washington to face Seattle University in their first year of Division-I competition.
After their trip to the Emerald City, the Matadors will begin their longest homestand of the season, seven consecutive games, that will bridge the non-conference portion of the schedule with their inaugural games against Big West opposition.
After a three game homestand with Sacramento State and a contest with Albany, CSUN will welcome UC Irvine to the Valley and look to avenge their performance against the Anteaters from last season, a weekend series that saw Irvine winning all three games in their home ballpark.
San Diego State will drive up to Northridge for one game in Northridge before the Matadors welcome the Cal Poly Mustangs for another weekend series.
Last season, Cal Poly won all three games played in San Luis Obispo; two of the three games needed extra innings to determine a winner, and in both of those extra-inning contests, the Matadors held the lead before being defeated in walk-off fashion by the home squad.
The first Big West Conference road games for the Matadors will take place in Stockton when CSUN faces the Pacific Tigers before returning to Northridge to complete their home-heavy half of the conference schedule against UC Davis.
The Matadors then hit the road for their longest road trip of the season, a seven game trip with scheduled stops in UC Santa Barbara for three games, UC Riverside for three games, before ending with a quick one-game trip to UNLV (one game).
The final homestand of the season will take place against Long Beach State, with non-conference games against San Diego and UC Riverside closing out the home portion of the 2010 season.
Even though UC Riverside is a Big West opponent, their final game of the season will count as a non-conference match-up to complete their scheduling requirements.
After starting Big West competition against once NCAA Tournament participant, the Matadors will end the 2010 regular season with a pivotal three-game series against another in the Cal State Fullerton Titans.