March 16, 2011
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Due to forecasted inclement weather, Cal State Northridge will host Sacramento State for three games at Matador Field this weekend. The series was originally scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Sacramento, but has been moved to Northridge. The series will kick off with a doubleheader on Friday at noon and will conclude with one game on Saturday starting at noon. Northridge leads the all-time series with the Hornets 44-22 and has won two in a row over Sacramento State, including a 10-6 victory at Matador Field in their last meeting in 2010. Following the series with the Hornets, the Matadors will remain in Southern California for games against Loyola Marymount and on the road at San Diego State next week.
The Matadors have been seeing the ball well of late and have made opposing pitchers pay. On March 8, Drew Muren's grand slam capped a six-run seventh inning and Chris Allen added a two-run blast in the eighth to beat San Diego State 12-9. In the victory over Lamar, Nate Ring hit a solo homer in the top of the first to give CSUN an early 1-0 lead. During the series with Valparaiso, three different Northridge hitters hit their first homerun of the season. Junior Steven Keller, sophomore Chris Allen and freshman Miles Williams all cleared the bases with two-run homers. Sophomore Joshua Goossen-Brown hit a homerun in his first career at-bat for the Matadors against Seattle as well. As a team, the Matadors lead the Big West Conference with eight round-trippers.
The Anchor in the Outfield
Redshirt junior Drew Muren returns for his third full season at Northridge in 2011. He was recently named as a Big West Conference Co-Player of the Week after hitting two homeruns, driving in seven runs and scoring six between March 7 and 13. Muren's grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning against San Diego State scored the eventual winning run for the Matadors. Muren's versatility in the field, at the plate and on the base paths make him a threat to any opponent. He accounted for 140 putouts in the field last season and turned three double-plays from centerfield. His prowess in the outfield did not go unnoticed by the Big West Conference coaches, as they voted him the best defensive outfielder in a College Baseball Insider poll earlier this year. Muren currently leads the conference in doubles (7) and is tied for second in runs scored (15).
The Flyin' Hawaiian
Senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter continues to be a force at the plate and on the basepaths. In the victory against UNLV, he went 2-for-4 with a three-run homerun, a triple, four RBI and two stolen bases. Carpenter finds ways to get on base, as he had a hit in three of four games against Valparaiso. In the four-game series against Seattle University, Carpenter stole his first base of the year. In Northridge's 10-3 victory on Feb. 19, Carpenter went 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Over the summer, he was ranked as one of the top ten recruits competing in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League for his success as a member of the Kauai Menehunes. His speed and skill led him to be named the best base-runner in the Big West in a College Baseball Insider poll of conference coaches. Carpenter has started every game in the outfield for Northridge this season and is currently tied for second in the Big West with Drew Muren for runs scored (15) and leads the league in stolen bases (8).
The Goose is Loose
Sophomore Joshua Goossen-Brown has wasted no time in making himself known around Matador Baseball circles. The pitcher/utility man pitched a scoreless eighth inning and picked up a hold in Northridge's 2-0 victory over Seattle University on Opening Day. The next day, he made his first start at first base for CSUN and homered in his first at-bat, a two-run blast to left field in the second game of a doubleheader. Later in the game, Goossen-Brown smacked a double and finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. He came on in relief during the Matadors' 5-2 win over Valparaiso in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Feb. 27 and pitched 4.1 innings, striking out six hitters to earn his first save of the year. He also pitched 1.2 innings against San Francisco, a game that the Matadors won in extra innings at the YMBL Cardinal Classic in Beaumont, Texas. Goossen-Brown went 3-for-3 from the plate with two doubles and four runs scored against UNLV, as he also pitched the final 2.1 innings and struckout three to notch his third save of the season.
After winning 10 of their first 17 games, the Matadors as a team are making a splash in the Big West Conference, leading or near the top of many offensive and defensive statistical categories. As the second team in the conference to reach 10 wins, Northridge is setting itself up for a strong run at the rest of the conference. The team is currently third in the Big West with a .278 batting average and .390 slugging percentage.
The Matadors rank second in the conference in runs scored (88), hits (147), and runs batted in (77), and are tied for fourth in both doubles (29) and triples (3). When it comes to the long ball, no other team has hit more homeruns as Northridge leads the league with eight. The Matadors are displaying excellent plate discipline, ranking second in both walks drawn (61) and times hit by pitch (24), and leading the Big West in sacrifice flies with 10.
Defensively, Northridge leads the league in strikeouts recorded (129) and are third in batters struck out looking (34). The Matadors' pitching staff has hit the second fewest batters in the league (10) and lead the conference in saves converted (6).
A Closer Look at Sacramento State
Overall, the Cal State Northridge Matadors are 44-22 all-time against the Sacramento State Hornets. The last time these two teams met was in Northridge in 2010, as the Matadors came away with an 10-6 home victory. The Hornets come into the week with a record of 4-12 overall and 2-4 at home, and have two games at home against Minnesota before taking on the Matadors in the three-game weekend series.
This series will be the only time that Northridge will face Sacramento State this season, and is the only three-game road series for the Matadors before Big West play begins at UC Irvine on April 1.
Through 16 games, the Hornets are led offensively by Derrick Chung, who has started each game this season for Sacramento State. Chung is hitting .259 with 15 hits in 58 at-bats, five doubles and five RBI on the year. Kirby Young leads the team in runs batted in with nine and has tallied two doubles in 2011.
The top starting pitcher for the Hornets is Karl Maas, who leads the team iwth a 2.00 ERA and is 1-1 through three starts. Mass has pitched 18.0 innings and has struck out five batters while allowing only two walks.
Results from Last Week
Two days after returning home from the YMBL Cardinal Classic in Texas, the Cal State Northridge Matadors had a quick turnaround as they hosted the San Diego State Aztecs on Tuesday. Drew Muren hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Northridge a 10-8 lead and Chris Allen hit a two-run shot in the eighth as the Matadors rallied for a 12-9 come-from-behind victory.
Northridge then split a four-game weekend series with the Lafayette College Leopards. After dropping the first game of the series last Friday at home, the Matadors swept a doubleheader on Saturday at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif. Lafayette scored first in both games of the doubleheader but Northridge was able to rebound and win the first game 7-5 and the second game, a wild contest that saw 10 total runs through two innings, 7-6.
The Matadors lost the series finale on Sunday 5-3 as they were unable to overcome errors and allowed runs early. Despite not giving up a run over the final four innings, the 5-0 deficit proved too much to erase as the series ended up split
In the final game of the week on Tuesday, Mar. 15, the Matadors played host to the UNLV Rebels for one game at Matador Field. Northridge jumped out to an early lead, drawing timely walks and capitalizing on defensive mistakes by the Rebels. The Matadors opened up a 7-0 lead after five innings and extended the lead to the final margin of 11-6 following a three-run homerun by Ridge Carpenter in the bottom of the seventh inning. Carpenter added a triple and Joshua Goossen-Brown went 3-for-3 with two doubles and four runs scored in the victory over UNLV.
With the Matadors' 2-0 victory over the Seattle University Redhawks on Feb. 18, CSUN has now won on Opening Day two years in a row, bringing the program's overall mark to 31-20-2 in season openers. Junior Justen Gorski pitched seven strong innings and allowed just three hits to the Redhawks to notch his first win of the year. Gorski struckout eight hitters while walking two. Joshua Goossen-Brown and Ryan Juarez came into the game in relief to help preserve the shutout, with Goossen-Brown earning a hold and Juarez converting his first save of 2011. Senior TS Reed started the game at second base and went 1-for-1 at the plate, driving in both runs for Northridge.
A Golden State of Mind
Of the 56 games on the schedule in 2011, only five will be played outside the state of California. Northridge welcomes Seattle University, Valparaiso, Lafayette and UNLV to Matador Field this season, but only make a return trip to Las Vegas before the year is through. The Matadors compete in the four-day YMBL Cardinal Classic on the campus of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas from Mar. 3 through 6. They then travel to Las Vegas to face UNLV for one game on April 5 at the halfway mark of the season, with the entire second half of the schedule against teams from California. In total, Cal State Northridge faces just six opponents that play their home games outside of the Golden State.
Under New Management
The Cal State Northridge Matadors will be under the direction of a new coaching staff in 2011, led by head coach Matt Curtis. Curtis joins the program from Fresno State, where he was an assistant coach for the Bulldogs for 10 years and was a part of five straight Western Athletic Conference title teams and the 2008 NCAA College World Series champions. Joining Curtis at CSUN is pitching coach Tim Leary, a former first round draft pick in 1979 by the New York Mets who won a World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. Also new to the coaching staff is CSUN alum and former Matador second baseman Shaun Larkin. Larkin was a member of Northridge's 2002 Big West Championship team and holds the NCAA Division-I record for consecutive times on base (18), and will work primarily with the infielders and hitters.
Dissecting the 2011 Squad
After finishing the 2010 season with a 29-27 overall record and a 9-15 mark in Big West Conference play, this year's team has its sights set on improving on the first winning season since 2002 and reaching the postseason again. The Matadors return 18 letterwinners from a year ago, led by senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter, and add 14 fresh faces to the program. Along with Carpenter, Northridge returns a core group of seniors poised to lead the team throughout the season, including infielder TS Reed, right-handed pitcher Paul Tremlin, infielder Justin De Marco, and right-handed pitchers Shawn Wilyman and Ryan Juarez.
Despite losing four key players that received All-Big West Conference honors last season, including First Team second baseman Ryan Pineda to the major league draft, the Matadors return over half of their roster in 2011. Northridge also adds seven transfers this season, including top newcomers in junior infielder Adam Barry and junior pitcher Carlos Gonzalez, Jr. This mix of transfer talent and veteran experience gives CSUN more depth around the diamond and in the bullpen as they gear up for a run at the Big West crown.
Coach Curtis takes over the reigns in his first season at Cal State Northridge and inherits a relatively young team, as just under half (14) of his players have more than two years of collegiate baseball experience. Curtis believes that the Matadors' strength lies in pitching and he adds five hurlers to his staff, run by pitching coach Tim Leary, to join eleven returning pitchers from a year ago. As Curtis brings his experience to the Big West, the Matadors will be looking to continue the success they enjoyed last season and translate it to the conference slate.
The 2011 Cal State Northridge baseball team received 13 points and was picked to finish in ninth place this season by the Big West coaches, as announced by the conference office in late January. Cal State Fullerton was the unanimous choice as the preseason favorite, receiving all nine first-place votes for 81 points. The Titans won their 15th Big West crown in 2010 and made their 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UC Irvine and UC Riverside each received 65 points to tie for second in the poll. Cal Poly was selected to finish fourth and Long Beach State nabbed the fifth spot with 47 points despite finishing in last place in the conference in 2010. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara received 36 points in the poll to check in at sixth, and the Matadors will face UCSB five times in 2011. Pacific came in seventh as they narrowly edged UC Davis by four points in the poll. Cal State Northridge begins Big West play on April 1 at UC Irvine.