May 27, 2008
IRVINE, Calif. - Matador freshman third baseman Ryan Pineda is the Big West Conference Freshman Player of the Year, it was announced Tuesday. Pineda led Big West freshmen with 17 doubles, six home runs, and 32 RBI in 2008 and capped the season with a walk-off home run in the final game of the season.
Pineda is the first Matador to claim the honor since Northridge joined the Big West in 2001.
A member of the biggest freshman class in the nation in 2008, Pineda was a touted shortstop from Bonanza HS of Las Vegas. After working out at second base through the fall, he eventually found his way to third early in the regular season and made his first start at that position in the tenth game of they year.
He would go on to make 44 starts at third base, seven more at second, and one at designated hitter. He was the Matadors most oft-used freshman and was one start shy of Richard Cates and John Parham, who led the team with 53 starts.
Pineda quickly established himself as an offensive force and was a mainstay in the middle of the Northridge lineup. After hovering among the Northridge leaders in doubles and RBI from the start, Pineda finally logged his first home run against Portland on May 13 and went on to hit five more before the season's conclusion.
Pineda's season peaked with a 5-for-5 performance against Pacific, a day in which he smacked homers in his first two at bats and finished with three RBI and three runs scored. The production spilled over into the following day, when he reached base in his first four plate appearances; he was on base a staggering nine consecutive times between the two games.
He was also responsible for arguably the most exciting moment of the 2008 season. Leading off the bottom of the ninth with his team tied 5-5 with UC Davis, Pineda sent the first pitch he saw deep into the trees beyond the left field wall for a walk-off home run.
Pineda leads a group of six Matadors on the All-Conference list. He, TS Reed (Second Base), John Parham (Utility), and Phil Hann (Starting Pitcher) were each tabbed honorable mention while Richard Cates (Utility) and Edwin Quirarte (Closer) was named to the second team.
Cates was the offensive catalyst all year after a torrid start to the 2008 season. The junior racked up 11 RBI in his first six games and went on to post 31 in just 28 games, the fastest Matador in school history to reach that mark. Cates finished with 41 RBI and a .350 batting average to lead Northridge.
The most dominant force on the mound for Northridge in 2008, Quirarte was also announced as a second-team honoree. Quirarte finished one save off the Northridge record of eight and was also nearly unhittable when on his game. The junior was called upon for extended save opportunities and was often used in multiple games in a row and was dominant over a 13.1 inning stretch that saw him hold opponents scoreless and to just four hits.
Another freshman infielder, TS Reed came out of nowhere to lead the Matadors and all Big West freshmen with 16 stolen bases. The second baseman also posted a .310 batting average for the year.
Parham checked in with a .348 batting average that was second best on the team, and his six home runs were knotted for first on the squad.
Phil Hann anchored a young pitching staff throughout the season and was recognized for his efforts with honorable mention honors. Hann made a start on each weekend of the season and was, at his best, electric. He struck out 11 in a game versus LaSalle and had his best start of the year late in the season against UC Irvine. He went 8.2 innings and faced 28 batters, but was the hard luck-loser as Northridge fell 1-0.