April 30, 2008
-- - MATADORS DROP UC RIVERSIDE SERIES:: Perhaps the best start of Davin Tate's career came on Friday evening, but the bats couldn't follow suit and Northridge fell 3-0.
Tate surrendered two runs in the first but settled down considerably and tossed six consecutive scoreless frames towards a seven-inning outing, the longest appearance of his career.
Northridge got runners in scoring position in just two innings and put a runner on third for the first time in the eighth.
On Saturday, Northridge collected six runs in the opening frame and ultimately earned a 14-5 victory. The Highlanders narrowed the score to 6-5 before adding a pair in the sixth and one in the eighth, and blowing it open with a five-run ninth.
Sunday's contest progressed in the Matadors' favor until the waning moments. Northridge actually was behind 2-1 briefly but knotted the score at two in the fourth and went ahead in the seventh, and went into the ninth leading 3-2. In the bottom of the ninth, however, UCR pushed across the two they needed to win the game.
DEMARCO LEADS THE WAY:: Justin DeMarco was one of three Matadors with five hits for the weekend, but the freshman shortstop also shared the lead for RBI (four) and runs scored (three) for Northridge over the weekend.
His three hits on Saturday matched a career-high, and his three runs scored for the afternoon surpassed his previous best of two. His final line for the day included three hits, three RBI, and three runs scored as he also collected his first career triple.
DeMarco and TS Reed smacked back-to-back triples on the afternoon and became the first set of Matadors to accomplish that feat this season.
GOING STREAKING:: John Parham is currently on a ten-game hitting streak and is two off the longest streak of the season, a 12-gamer that Richard Cates strung together earlier this year. Cates is currently on a run of five consecutive games with a knock, and Drew Muren and TS Reed have streaks of four apiece.
SLAMMIN':: Ryan Pineda blasted the first grand slam of the year for the Matadors on Saturday as part of their six-run first inning. The shot was the first home run of Pineda's career.
Pineda joins Richard Cates as current Matadors to have hit a grand slam. Ironically, Cates' slam also came on his first career home run and in his freshman season.
DeMarco, Cates, and Pineda form the first 20-RBI trio of freshman for the Matadors since 2004, when Adam Fleener, Nick Mahin, Raymond Ravago, and Johnny Coit surpassed the benchmark.
SERIES SUMMARY:: Northridge has faced UNLV 39 times since their first engagement in 1975, and the Matadors hold the advantage at 22-17. The two teams hooked up for a weekend set in 2007 and, after an Opening Day loss, Northridge went on to win the series and outscore the Rebels 29-21.
UC Irvine is fairly new in the spectrum of conference rivalries for the Matadors. Having faced the Anteaters just 45 times, the series is the third-youngest among Big West members.
Despite a recent slide, the Matadors still hold the all-time series lead at 28-17. Last year, it was the Anteaters posting a sweep of the Matadors en route to an ultimate College World Series berth. The Matadors were shutout on Friday and Saturday and were outscored for the series 30-3.
SCOUTING THE:: Rebels: UNLV is on a similar pace to that of their 2007 campaign when they finished 6th in the Mountain West Conference and 24-36 overall. The Rebels are hovering at 19-23 and are 8-10 in league play.
The Rebels are led by Xavier Scruggs. The junior infielder is hitting .429 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI. Several other UNLV players have impressive batting average and RBI numbers, fueled by incredibly high-scoring games. Nine UNLV contests have had combined scores of 20+ runs.
Marc Baca and Matt Hutchison will take the mound for the Rebels in the midweek set. Baca has posted an 8.02 ERA this season over 18 appearances and 21.1 innings. He has 14 strikeouts and 13 walks and has surrendered 16 extra-base hits.
Anteaters: UC Irvine was one of the surprise stories on the national landscape in 2007, burning through Big West pay and finishing a hair shy of UC RIverside for the league championship.They earned a trip to NCAA regionals, where they advanced to play Wichita State in Super Regionals and ultimately went on to a CWS berth.
They have followed last season's success with even more success in regards to regular season performance. The Anteaters are 28-10 and have been mainstays in most national polls.
The `Eaters are led by returning starters Ollie Linton and Ben Orloff. Linton, a preseason All-American, is hitting .352 but has really starred on the basepaths, swiping 30 bases and scoring 42 runs. Orloff bats in the two-hole and is batting .351 with 16 stolen bases. Part time starter Dillon Bell leads the squad in batting at a .377 clip.
Scott Gorgen anchors the UCI pitching staff. The right-hander has averaged more than seven innings per start and is 8-2 with a 2.07 ERA. He has yet to post a no-decision. Eric Pettis is at the back of the bullpen and has been lights outs, amassing 10 saves and a 1.55 ERA.