May 6, 2008
-- - Northridge Salvages a Win After Dropping First Two to UC Irvine:: Steve Rousey stuck with the same rotation for two consecutive weeks for the first time since late March and the stability showed, as Phil Hann and Ryan Juarez each turned in season- and career-long outings and held the Anteaeters to just six runs for the weekend.
On Friday, Tate surrendered runs in the second and fourth but kept the Matadors in the game through his six innings. Northridge couldn't finish anything against All-American UCI starter Scott Gorgen, and after leaving the bases loaded twice and a man on third once, Northridge fell 1-4 with the lone score coming on a Justin DeMarco solo shot.
On Saturday, Phil Hann and the `Eaters' Bryce Stowell dueled to a 1-0 decision with Hann on the short end. Hann was perhaps more dominant despite the loss, as Northridge had baserunners in all but three innings. In contrast, Hann retired the first nine men he faced before a bunt single, and then retired the next nine he faced. In the seventh, the score that proved to be the difference came on a grounder that looked like a double play ball but instead went as a fielder's choice. Hann finished with 8.2 innings and six strikeouts under his belt.
On Sunday, Northridge flipped the script on the Anteaters. Juarez walked two in the opening frame and had an error committed behind him but wormed out of trouble and settled down, giving up just one score over his seven innings. Even so, after Juarez tossed the seventh, his team was behind. In the bottom half of the inning, Northridge took advantage of an Irvine miscue, posted some timely hits, and came away with a four-run seventh that staked Juarez to a 4-1 lead and gave Edwin Quirarte a chance to close it out with a two-inning save, which he did.
DeMarco Goes Deep:: Justin DeMarco was the only Matador to homer this week and broke a home run drought for the team at Matador Field that dated all the way back to a March 22nd win over Loyola Marymount.
DeMarco became the third freshman and the fifth Matador overall to homer at Matador Field this season. Each of the other four players have hit two or more homers at the home field this season.
Pitching Points:: Previously to this weekend, Phil Hann was one of three Matadors to retire nine consecutive men in one game, joining Jimmy Jolicoeur and Billy Ott. On Saturday, he accomplished the feat twice in one game.
Edwin Quirarte posted his seventh save of the year on Sunday. That total gives him the third-best sum in school history and, along with his save in 2007, gives him the fourth-best career mark in school history.
The Northridge pitching staff has surrendered just 22 runs over their last nine games which is easily the best stretch for Northridge pitching in 2008. The nine-game run is, in fact, the best since 1996 when the Matadors surrendered 22 runs over a 10-game span. The last time a Northridge staff matched that feat against a slate of all-Division I opponents was in 1992.
In a Pinch:: Dominic D'Anna stepped into a clutch situation Sunday and delivered with bases-loaded, RBI single to tie the game at one in the seventh inning. For the year, Northridge is 15-47 in pinch-hit situations.
If the averages hold, the Matadors will become the second consecutive Northridge team to post a pinch-hit batting average greater than .300. Their current average of .319 is 11 points better than last year's final average of .308, when only three of 16 players with pinch hit opportunities did not get at least one pinch hit.
Series Summary:: Northridge is completing their four-game midweek set with UNLV this week. Previously in 2008 Northridge dispatched the Rebels by a pair of narrow margins at Matador Field.
In Tuesday's game one, it was Billy Ott teaming with Eric Billings and Edwin Quirarte to limit the Rebels to one run on seven hits in a 2-1 Northridge win. Wednesday brought a 5-3 Matador win that included four runs through the middle innings.
Northridge climbed to a 19-22 all-time record against UNLV. The Matadors haven't hooked up with USC since 2005, when the teams got together for a midweek engagement that the Trojans won 9-2. USC has won the last seven games in this series, which is now the longest Matador losing streak against one team.
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.
Despite a slow set against the Matadors last week, Xavier Scruggs remains the centerpiece of the UNLV attack. The junior is batting .429 with 16 home runs and 35 extra base hits. Braden Walker was the only Rebel to amass three hits over the two games last week.
Trojans: USC enters this week on a three-game slide after being swept in Los Angeles by Washington. Cal Poly will get a crack at the Trojans Tuesday before the Matadors get their turn on Saturday and Sunday.
Grant Green leads the Trojan offense. The sophomore leads the Trojans with a .376 batting average, eight home runs, four triples, and 14 doubles. Two other Trojans are batting .358 with double-digit doubles, including Derek Perren, who leads the club with 43 RBI.
Tommy Milone will take the ball on Saturday, with either Brad Boxberger or Ryan Cook to follow in Sunday. Milone has established himself as the ace of the staff for the stretch run and enters the weekend with the staff's best numbers. Milone has a staff-best 2.95 ERA and 75 strikeouts that have powered him to a 5-4 mark.
With 10 games remaining, the Trojans and Matadors have identical 20-24 records and in a strong Pac-10, a winning finish would put the Trojans in the conversation for post-season play.