April 6, 2011

Northridge Faces Bakersfield in Non-Conference Series this Weekend

April 6, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The five-game road trip is officially over as the Matadors finished with a 1-4 record over that span. Northridge returns home this weekend for a game against Cal State Bakersfield on Friday at Matador Field. The final two games of the series will be played on the road against the Roadrunners. On Tuesday, the Matadors will host the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in a non-conference game before returning to Big West play at Cal Poly next weekend. All home games will be broadcast on Gametracker through GoMatadors.com and select home and road games will be broadcast via Internet Radio on IBSU.net.

Making History

With the Matadors' 10-5 victory over the Sacramento State Hornets on March 19, Cal State Northridge has now won 1,500 games on the baseball diamond. The program began play in 1959 as San Fernando Valley State College and began its inaugural season 0-7 before winning for the first time in school history against UC Riverside 7-5 at Matador Field. Now in its 53rd season, Cal State Northridge baseball has won 12 conference titles, the first in 1965 (California Collegiate Athletic Association) and the most recent in 2002 (Big West Conference), and two NCAA Division II National Championships (1970 and 1984).

Yard Work

The Matadors have been seeing the ball well of late and have made opposing pitchers pay. Against Sacramento State, senior TS Reed hit his first homerun of the season, a three-run shot in game two of a doubleheader on March 18, and redshirt sophomore Tommy Simis added his first of the year the next day in a pair of victories. 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 batters 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 (12) as nine different Matadors have gone yard this season.

Conference Chatter

As the Big West Conference season gets underway, 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 to reach 10 wins, Northridge is setting itself up for a strong run at the rest of the conference. The team is currently sixth in the Big West with a .264 batting average and third with a .378 slugging percentage.

The Matadors are second the Big West in hits (234) and lead with 53 doubles, rank second in the conference in runs scored (143) and runs batted in (126), and are fourth in triples (6). When it comes to the long ball, no other team has hit more homeruns as Northridge leads the league with 12. The Matadors are displaying excellent plate discipline, ranking second in walks drawn (101), third in times hit by pitch (33) and tied for second in sacrifice flies (13).

Defensively, Northridge ranks third in the league in strikeouts recorded (183) and fourth in batters struck out looking (54). The Matadors' pitching staff has hit the fifth fewest batters in the league (20), is tied for third in the conference in saves converted (8), and tied for first in successful pick-offs (8). Statistics are accurate as of April 4.

A Closer Look at Cal State Bakersfield

The Cal State Northridge Matadors will take a break from Big West Conference play with a split series against Cal State Bakersfield this weekend. The first game of the series is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Northridge on Friday, with the final two to be played Saturday and Sunday in Bakersfield.

The Roadrunners come into the week with a record of 20-7, having most recently taken two out of three games on the road against Santa Clara. Northridge holds the lead in the all-time series at 3-2, as this match up could have the potential to start a long-term friendly rivalry.

Bakersfield is led on offense by Ryan McIntyre, who currently owns a .363 batting average. McIntyre has legged out four triples and adds 10 doubles while driving in 18 runs for the Roadrunners. Martin Medina leads the club with four homeruns and 28 RBI, posting an average of .297.

Right-handed pitcher Mike McCarthy will likely get the start on Friday in Northridge. McCarthy has started seven games on the mound for Bakersfield and owns a 3-2 record with an ERA 1.36. Opposing hitters are hitting .212 off of him, and he has recorded 52 strikeouts so far in 2011, the most on the team.

A Closer Look at UC Santa Barbara

Next Tuesday's game against UC Santa Barbara will officially be a non-conference game, as the two teams play two such games against each other this season to meet scheduling requirements. The meeting will give each other a preview of the Big West series set for later in the year.

The Gauchos have compiled a 12-11 record coming into the week but have not played a conference game yet, as opening weekend was their bye week from Big West competition. Most recently, UC Santa Barbara dropped two of three games to San Jose State at home, winning the finale 4-1.

Santa Barbara is led at the plate by Sean Williams with his .382 batting average. Williams is tied for first on the team with 20 runs scored and has driven in 13 this year. Mark Haddow is hitting .325 with 19 RBI, four triples and two homeruns.

Cameron Cuneo owns a 1.29 ERA in 11 relief appearances this season, allowing one earned run in 7.0 innings. Cuneo has also set down six batters on strikes and has surrendered only one extra-base hit, a double. The Gauchos open up conference play this weekend with three games at home against Cal Poly before coming to Northridge on Tuesday.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors opened Big West Conference play with a three-game series at then-No. 19 UC Irvine. Northridge was swept in the series with the Anteaters. In the first game on Friday, Drew Muren hit a three-run homerun and had four RBI in the 9-6 loss. The Matadors had a 2-0 lead in the second game before six runs for UCI broke the game open and CSUN lost 10-4. The finale saw Irvine finish the sweep for the second straight season despite two RBI for Steven Keller and one earned run allowed in 6.0 relief innings for Vincent Roberts.

At UNLV on Tuesday, the Matadors were able to snap their four-game losing streak with a 9-3 win. Ridge Carpenter tripled twice and Kyle Attl brought home four runs for Northridge in the non-conference contest.

The Anchor in the Outfield

Redshirt junior Drew Muren had four hits, including a homerun and double, and five RBI in the conference opening series at UC Irvine (4/1 to 4/3) and 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. 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 is currently tied for the lead in the conference for doubles (11) and is tied for sixth in runs scored (19).

The Flyin' Hawaiian

Senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter tripled twice at UNLV (4/5), becoming the first Matadors with two triples in a game since 1998 and had seven hits in the three-game series with LMU (March 25-27) to lead the team in multiple-hit games with ten. 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 sixth in the Big West for runs scored (19) and is second in stolen bases (11).

The Goose is Loose

Sophomore transfer Joshua Goossen-Brown pitched a gem on April 5 at UNLV, throwing 5.0 innings and striking out five in his first start of the season. 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. Goossen-Brown went 3-for-3 from the plate with two doubles and four runs scored against UNLV on March 15, as he also pitched the final 2.1 innings and struckout three to notch his third save of the season. He has spent time as the designated hitter, first baseman, catcher and relief pitcher for the Matadors so far this year and is second on the squad with a .327 batting average. Goossen-Brown is currently tied for third in the Big West in saves (4).

First Impressions

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.

Survey Says...

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.

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