April 20, 2011

Northridge To Play Conference Home Opener Vs. Pacific, Travel to UCSB

April 20, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Matadors head home to Northridge for a three-game Big West series against the Pacific Tigers beginning on Thursday, April 21. The series will be the first home set for Northridge in conference play this season, as they look to win their first Big West Conference game of the year. Following the weekend against the Tigers, the Matadors will travel north to UC Santa Barbara for a single non-conference game on Tuesday, April 26 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

The Goosse is Loose

Sophomore 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 following Sunday at Bakersfield, he nearly tossed a complete game, throwing 8.1 innings and striking out four in the 2-1 victory. For his efforts, the Sherman Oaks, Calif. native was named the Big West Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week for April 5-11. On the week, Goossen-Brown went 2-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 13.1 innings. The pitcher/utility man has also spent time as the DH, first baseman, catcher and relief pitcher for the Matadors so far this year and leads the squad with a .339 batting average. Goossen-Brown is tied with Ryan Juarez for the lowest ERA on the team at 3.72 and is tied for the fifth-most wins in the Big West with four.

The Anchor in the Outfield

Redshirt junior Andrew 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 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 on March 8 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. In the 2-1 victory at Bakersfield on April 10, he threw out a runner at the plate from centerfield to preserve the lead. Muren is currently tied for second in the conference for doubles (12) and is tied for sixth in runs batted in (23).

Conference Chatter

Now in the midst of the Big West Conference season, the Matadors find themselves jockeying for position in a crowded conference. The team is currently eighth in the Big West with a .255 batting average and fifth with a .361 slugging percentage. The Matadors are fourth the Big West in hits (293) and tied for third with 61 doubles, rank third in the conference in runs scored (173) and runs batted in (154), and are tied for fourth in triples (8). When it comes to the long ball, no other team has hit more homeruns as Northridge leads the league with 15, six more than the next squad. 

The Matadors are displaying excellent plate discipline as they are third in walks drawn (118) and hit by pitch (40), and are tied for third in sacrifice flies (15). 

Defensively, Northridge ranks sixth in the league in strikeouts recorded (227). The Matadors' pitching staff has hit the third-fewest batters in the league (25), is tied for third in the conference in saves converted (9), and tied for second in successful pick-offs (8). 

The Matadors are currently ranked No. 161 in the NCAA RPI rankings, the same spot they occupied at the beginning of last week. All statistics are accurate as of April 18.

A Closer Look at Pacific

Northridge will play its first home games of the 2011 Big West Conference season this weekend when the Tigers of the University of the Pacific travel south to Matador Field. The Matadors are looking for their first conference victory of the year after dropping the first six on the road at UC Irvine and Cal Poly.

The Tigers bring in a record of 11-21 and are 3-6 in the Big West after winning one of three against UC Irvine in Stockton, Calif. last weekend. Pacific owns a record of 5-7 on the road, and are 10-7 all-time at Matador Field.

The Tigers are led offensively by Matthew Carvutto, who leads the conference with 15 doubles and owns a .362 batting average. Carvutto has driven in 21 runs while scoring 24 times and has a slugging percentage of .496. The senior outfielder doubles as a relief pitcher and has a 1-0 record with a 2.16 ERA in seven appearances out of the bullpen.

The ace so far on the mound for Pacific is Jake Hummel, who has tossed two complete games in nine starts this year. Hummel has compiled a 4-3 record and a 3.53 ERA while striking out 49 hitters and walking just 16.

A Closer Look at UC Santa Barbara

Following the three-game series with Pacific, the Matadors will travel to Santa Barbara for a non-conference game on Tuesday, April 26. The contest will be the second game the two teams play outside of the league slate this year. The Matadors won in walk-off fashion 3-2 at Matador Field on April 12 as they scored once in the eighth and twice in the ninth to overcome a 2-0 deficit. Tommy Simis' two-run double with two outs in the ninth won the game for Northridge.

The Gauchos defeated Pepperdine 3-2 in 15 innings on April 19, and host Long Beach State in Big West action at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium this weekend.

UC Santa Barbara is led at the plate by Sean Williams, who brings a .342 batting average and a team-high 40 hits into the week. Williams was 0-for-2 with two walks in the last meeting with the Matadors. Pitcher Greg Davis (3-2, 3.61 ERA) has started six games in 11 appearances but did not see action in Northridge on April 12.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors returned to Big West action last week with a three-game series on the road against the Cal Poly Mustangs. Northridge had some trouble on both sides of the ball as it committed six errors through the three games while only scoring eight runs.

On Friday night, the Mustangs put together timely hitting coupled with dominance on the mound as Cal Poly defeated the Matadors 7-3 at Baggett Stadium. Northridge trailed 7-0 before scoring three times in the top of the eighth inning to put the final margin at four runs. Andrew Muren went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored in the loss.

In the second game, Cal Poly led off the bottom of the first with a homerun and plated four total in the inning. The Matadors could manage just two runs and lost the game 8-2. Adam Barry had three singles in the game as Muren added his second RBI of the weekend. In the finale, Marty Bowen and Kyle Attl each had an RBI but the Matadors could not overcome a 3-0 hole, losing 5-3.

Yard Work

The Matadors continue to rank at the top of the Big West with the long ball. In the 2-1 victory over Bakersfield on April 10, Ridge Carpenter led off the game with a solo homerun to right field that proved to be the winner. 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, Andrew 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 (14) as 10 different Matadors have gone yard this season.

Winning the Arms Race

The Matadors have been able to win close games as of late thanks in large part to the defense. Whether they are turning timely double plays or throwing out runners on the basepaths, the Matadors are sending a message to opponents and the rest of the conference. In a 2-1 victory over Loyola Marymount on March 27, Northridge threw out a runner at second base, third base, and two at the plate. In the tops of the fourth and fifth innings, ground balls to shortstop Kyle Attl resulted in runners out at home as he fired to catcher Steven Keller twice to keep runs off the board. Adam Barry cut down a runner at second base from left field and Nate Ring threw out a batter trying to stretch a double into a triple. In the 2-1 victory on the road against Bakersfield on April 10, both Andrew Muren and Nate Ring threw out runners at the plate to preserve the lead; Ring fired home to cut down the runner trying to tie the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Making History

With the Matadors' 10-5 victory over the Sacramento State Hornets on March 19, Cal State Northridge won its 1,500th game 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).

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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