Northridge Baseball Opens Big West Slate at UC Santa Barbara

March 25, 2008

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THIS WEEK IN NORTHRIDGE BASEBALL

Fri., Mar 28 • UC Santa Barbara • Santa Barbara • 2 p.m. Sat., Mar 29 • UC Santa Barbara • Santa Barbara • 1 p.m. Sun., Mar 30 • UC Santa Barbara • Santa Barbara • 1 p.m.

NORTHRIDGE TAKES SERIES FINALE AFTER DROPPING FIRST THREE

The Matadors dropped the first three games of their series with LMU but bounced back on Saturday afternoon to take the fourth contest. Northridge was dealt a setback in that game when starting pitcher Davin Tate was forced to leave the game after being struck in the ankle with a line drive, but a courageous relief effort from P.J. Rousey, Edwin Quirarte, and Billy Ott sent the Lions packing in game four. For the week, the Matadors out-hit the Lions .333 to .274 but were outscored 135-132. The Matadors logged seven doubles to the Lions' five and three triples to none for LMU. The Lions smacked five homers, and Northridge three.

ON THE RECORD

Justin DeMarco reached the record books over the weekend, logging his seventh sacrifice bunt of the season. DeMarco bunted his way into the Matador record books and is now in a tie for tenth with six other Matadors and is just four off of the Northridge record of 11, which was reached most recently by Jason Allec in 2000.

Richard Cates is also eyeing the Northridge record book. Among his spectacular numbers for 2008 are four triples, which leaves him one away from the Matador single-season top-ten list for that category. Six Matadors have logged five three-baggers and only six others have surpassed that plateau. C.J. Belanger, who logged six in 2007, is the only Matador since 1996 to break into the top ten. In `96, Northridge legends Adam Kennedy and Robert Fick managed five and six triples, respectively.

SWAN SONG

Billy Swanson made the most of his eighth start of the season Saturday, turning in a breakout performance. The sophomore outfielder made his first start in center field and was all over the field on offense and defense, making spectacular plays with his glove and arm and also leading the Northridge offense.

The sophomore from Cypress, Calif. logged career-highs in hits, RBI, and runs scored and was the catalyst in a 10-3 Northridge victory. Swanson was 3-for-4 with three RBI, and two runs scored and ignited the Matadors with several hustle plays, including a dive into first base to secure a leadoff bunt single in the fourth inning.

He started the day 3-for-3 and smacked a sac fly in his fourth at bat before hitting into an inning-ending fielder's choice in the eighth.

BIG WEST COUNTDOWN

With the Matadors opening Big West play this weekend, the countdown has started once again toward the 500th conference victory in program history. The Matadors currently are sitting on 499 conference victories. 52 of those wins have come as a part of the Big West conference, which Northridge joined officially in 2001. Before that, Northridge won 60 games over four seasons as members of the Western Athletic Conference, and the other 387 wins came as a member of the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association.

HOW THEY DREW IT UP

Freshman Drew Muren had the best week of his young career this week, collecting six hits that included a double and his first career triple and home run. Muren reached base at a clip of .500 for the weekend.

HAMMER TIME

John Parham smacked two home runs over two games Saturday, pushing himself into the team lead in that category. Parham also became the second Matador to hit two home runs in one day in 2008, but the other, Chris Hannick, accomplished the feat in one game.

FIRST TIME IN AT LEAST FIVE SEASONS THAT

Three Matadors are hitting over .400 20 games into the season. TS Reed, John Parham, and Richard Cates are all currently hitting in the .400's at that mark. If he keeps his pace, Reed would be he first Matador freshman to hit .400 for the year, and if any of the matadors accomplish the feat, they would be the 11th Matador in program history and the first since 2001 to do it.

SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS... Gauchos: UC Santa Barbara comes into the weekend at 14-7, the third-best mark in the Big West Conference, thanks in part to a favorable non-conference slate. Among their 14 wins, seven have come against Marist and Southern Utah, whom they swept at home in the early going. They did, however, claim a non-conference victory over the Matadors earlier in the year.

The Gauchos host Northridge as part of a season-long 12-game home stand that the gauchos have dominated the first half of, going 6-1 against Southern Utah and Saint Mary's. The Gauchos will likely claim their seventh win against NAIA lightweight Westmont Tuesday.

The Gauchos have been led in the early going by Brian Gump and Chris Fox, the outfielders that are currently hitting .402 and .400, respectively. UCSB leads the conference with 152 runs scored and 17 home runs in 2008, and are third with 37 stolen bases. The Gauchos also get it done in the field, leading the Big West at a .973 fielding percentage.