Northridge Travels East for Defending Champ Highlanders

April 22, 2008

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Matadors Swept by Long Beach State After logging 15 runs against Cal State Fullerton in the series finale alone, the Matadors struggled to get the offense going against a very talented Long Beach St. pitching staff. The Dirtbags walked just four batters over the weekend and came away with a three-game sweep in which they outscored Northridge by a 29-5 margin.

In Friday's game one, Northridge got on top early with a first-inning tally in which leadoff man TS Reed worked his way around on a single, a sac bunt, a stolen base, and a passed ball. They maintained the lead into the third, when Beach scored three to take the lead. They added seven between the fifth and sixth and six more down the stretch, and a Northridge score in the sixth did nothing to stem the tide. The 49ers prevailed 16-2.

On Saturday Northridge managed to limit the Long Beach attack, but the Matadors never led after falling behind 2-1 in the first. They cut the lead to six in the fifth but ultimately fell 9-2.

Northridge was in position to make a run on Sunday, remaining in striking distance through the duration of the contest. An error on the first at bat of the game put a man on, and he worked around on a pair of wild pitched and eventually scored. A second unearned run would come around later in the frame. A third unearned run in the sixth put Long Beach up 3-0, and Northridge could not mount a threat until the seventh, when Drew Muren notched a double and Ryan Pineda followed with a pinch-hit RBI single.

Dom-inance Dominic D'Anna was slowed in the early going by an off-season illness and did not get his first real action until the Matadors' trip to Mississippi. The freshman first baseman appeared briefly against UCLA and recorded a hit by pitch in the Northridge loss.

D'Anna went 3-for-3 in his first start of the year and hasn't slowed down, logging hits in all but three of his 11 starts, including three multi-hit efforts.

D'Anna, having finally amassed enough at bats to qualify, leads the Matadors with a .429 batting average and .556 on-base percentage. He is also one of just three players to log a hit in each of the three games against Long Beach St.

Bruin Blanking The Matadors shut out UCLA for the first time since 1963 on Tuesday, getting a dominant performance from their pitching staff in the victory. A few notes on the win: •Billy Ott and Davin Tate teamed up for a dominant performance for the second time in their career as freshmen, the tandem went back-to-back to defeat Fresno State 10-3. •Ott had his longest career outing, going five full innings and surrendering just two hits. • Tate went three innings in relief and surrendered just one hit and no runs. It was the first shutout outing for Tate this season and was the fewest hits the sophomore had allowed as well. • Despite tossing another scoreless inning, Edwin Quirarte did not qualify for his fifth save after entering with a four-run lead. • Northridge snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bruins and won their first game at Jackie Robinson Stadium since Opening Day of 2003.

Beach Blues Northridge had been swept by Long Beach State in 2007, and with the sweep over the weekend, Northridge now has a six-game losing streak against the Dirtbags. That slump is second only to the seven-game slide the Matadors are currently in against USC. Northridge will get its next crack against the Trojans in a couple of weeks when they travel to Los Angeles, but they will have to wait until 2009 to end their slump against Long Beach State.

Series Summary The Matadors and Gauchos are not strangers this year. They have hooked up five times already this year, twice for non-conference showdowns and three times for a Big West weekend set. The Gauchos are 5-0 against Northridge for the year.

The last time that Northridge went winless against one opponent in a five-game or longer series in one year was in 1990 when the Matadors went 0-5 against Cal Poly.

UC Riverside is also streaking against the Matadors, having won the last five meetings between the squads. Historically speaking, Northridge has a 102-76 in the second-longest series in Northridge history.

Scouting the... Gauchos: Perhaps the surprise story in the Big West in 2008, the Gauchos are among the conference leaders after three Big West series. Leading the way against the matadors and everyone else has been Brian Gump. The center fielder and leadoff man has the top batting average for his squad at .382 and has also showcased his speed with 21 stolen bases. Gump has batted .476 against the Matadors with two doubles and a home run. The true Northridge nemesis, however, has been Chris Fox, who has 11 RBI and a .455 batting average against Northridge in 2008.

Mike Martin gets the ball after earning the win against the matadors in the last showdown between the rivals.

Highlanders: UC Riverside claimed the Big West championship in 2007, charging through conference play behind staff ace James Simmons. After losing all three members of their weekend rotation, Riverside experienced growing pains through the non-conference slate and stumbled to a 6-19 non-conference mark.

Since the start of conference play, however, the Highlanders have found their stride and taken Big West series from Long Beach State and UC Irvine while playing arguably the toughest Big West slate thus far. They dropped a series to Cal State Fullerton to open Big West play. Matt Larkins has taken the mantle of staff ace for the 2008 season as the Saturday starter. Stephen Penney has been the Friday man despite an 0-5 record and 6.32 ERA, and Paul Bargas has been hot and cold, going 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA but also tossing a complete game en route to Big West Pitcher of the Week honors.

Drew Garcia has led the way offensively, leading his squad with a .343 batting average, 11 doubles, and 27 RBI. Garcia is the only full-timer batting above .300, with part-time starter Bryan Horst hovering at that plateau.