June 2, 2011

2011 Matador Baseball Year in Review

June 2, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

And Then There Were None...

The 2011 Cal State Northridge Baseball season has officially come to and end, spelling the conclusion of the first Matador season under head coach Matt Curtis. The Matadors finished the year with a 23-33 overall record and a 6-18 mark in a Big West Conference that includes two Top 20 teams and threatened to send three teams to NCAA Regional Tournaments this spring. Despite finishing ninth in the Big West, Northridge ended the year seventh with 23 wins and a .411 winning percentage. 

With five starters returning from a season ago, the Matadors worked to find the best combination and came away with notable victories throughout the campaign. On Opening Day, Northridge defeated Seattle University 2-0 to improve to 31-20-2 in season openers. The Matadors won their first series of the year on the second weekend by defeating Valparaiso 6-3 to take the four-game set 3-1. From there, they traveled to Beaumont, Texas for their first road trip and a four-day invitational at the YMBL Cardinal Classic at Lamar University. After dropping the first two, Northridge rallied for a 3-2 walk-off victory over San Francisco, a team that is competing in the NCAA Tournament, on March 5. Northridge finished the weekend with a thrilling 7-6 victory over Lamar to split the invitational 2-2.

Other notable wins include the program's 1500th victory on the diamond following the series-clinching victory over Sacramento State on March 19 and a season home-and-home sweep of the UNLV Rebels, a team that finished with 33 wins and just 10 home losses. One of the most thrilling wins came on the road at Cal State Bakersfield when Joshua Goossen-Brown pitched 8.1 innings in a 2-1 victory that featured Nate Ring throwing out a runner at the plate in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the lead.

After a 0-6 start to Big West play, the Matadors returned home and turned un a 13-6 victory over Pacific for their first conference win. The first conference series win came two weeks later after back-to-back wins over UC Santa Barbara at home. Northridge salvaged a game in the series against UC Riverside with perhaps the most thrilling offensive victory of the year, a 9-8 come-from-behind walk-off win as CSUN scored six runs with two outs in the ninth inning to force extras before a safety squeeze with one out by Matthew Moreno scored Tommy Simis from third as the winning run in the 10th. 

The next Northridge victory was their first road conference win, a complete game four-hit shutout by Vincent Roberts, the first such performance in over five years for the Matadors. Northridge won its final game in the opener against Cal State Fullerton, the No. 9 team in the nation, in a toe-to-toe battle at Matador Field. Moreno racked up three hits and Marty Bowen drove in two for the first win over a ranked opponent in 2011. At the end of the year, three Matadors received Big West recognition for their play on the field. Andrew Muren and Bowen were named to the All-Big West Second Team and Roberts received an Honorable Mention.

Results from The Final Weekend

The Matadors completed the final series of the season by going 1-2 against the No. 9 Cal State Fullerton Titans at Matador Field. Northridge opened up Friday's matchup with another outstanding performance on the mound by Vincent Roberts, who followed up his complete game shutout at Long Beach State by giving up two hits and an unearned run in 6.2 innings. Matthew Moreno went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Marty Bowen drove in two runs as the Matadors held on late for a 5-4 victory. Paul Tremlin recorded the final three outs on the hill to give the Matadors their first victory over a ranked opponent this season.

The Titans rebounded in the second game of the series by posting a 6-0 shutout over the Matadors. Northridge recorded six hits in the game, all singles, and could not figure out the Fullerton pitchers to put a run on the board. On the final day of the season, the Matadors and Titans were locked in a back-and-forth battle until the later stages in the game before Fullerton finally pulled away. Marty Bowen, Tommy Simis and Matthew Moreno doubled, Simis added a triple, and both Simis and Moreno drove in two runs in an 11-6 defeat to the Titans. Before the game, Paul Tremlin, Ryan Juarez, Shawn Wilyman, Justin De Marco, Ridge Carpenter and TS Reed were honored as the 2011 Matador Baseball Senior Class. 

Conference Chatter Comes to a Close

The season has come to a close, and the Matadors finished the year ranked in the thick of the conference in many statistical categories. The team finished seventh in the Big West with a .262 batting average and a .358 slugging percentage. The Matadors ended the year tied for fifth in the Big West in hits (476) and sixth in doubles (86), fourth in runs scored (254) and runs batted in (227), and fifth in triples (11). When it comes to the long ball, no other team hit more homeruns as Northridge tied for the league lead with 22.

The Matadors displayed excellent plate discipline all year long as they were fifth in walks drawn (172) and in times hit by pitch (59) and sixth in sacrifice flies (20). Defensively, Northridge ranked seventh in the league in strikeouts recorded (329). The Matadors' pitching staff hit the fifth-fewest batters in the league (44), was tied for fourth in the conference in saves converted (12), and finished sixth in successful pick-offs (9).

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 started 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).

Yard Work

The Matadors finished 2011 ranked at the top of the Big West with the long ball. Led by a Tommy Simis solo shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, they completed a six-run rally to force extra innings in a game the Matadors would win 9-8 over UC Riverside. Against UC Santa Barbara on May 7, both Marty Bowen and Steven Keller hit two-run bombs in the Matadors' 4-2 series-clinching win. In the 2-1 victory over Bakersfield on April 10, Ridge Carpenter led off the game with a solo home run to right field that proved to be the winner. Against Sacramento State, senior TS Reed hit his first home run 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 and added his third on April 22 with a three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth against Pacific. 

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 home run of the season. Keller, sophomore Chris Allen and freshman Miles Williams all cleared the bases with two-run homers. Sophomore Joshua Goossen-Brown hit a home run in his first career at-bat for the Matadors against Seattle as well. As a team, the Matadors tied for the lead in the Big West Conference (22) as 11 different Matadors went yard this season.

Winning the Arms Race

The Matadors were able to keep leads in games thanks in large part to the defense. Whether they were turning timely double plays or throwing out runners on the basepaths, the Matadors sent 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 Drew 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. Against UC Santa Barbara (5/6 - 5/8), Muren excelled in his position in center field by throwing out two runners on the basepaths, once at the plate and once at second base.

Putting Up Zeros

Junior Vincent Roberts was lights out for the Matadors all season long on the mound. At Long Beach State on May 20, the Modesto, Calif. native went the entire way for a complete game, four-hit shutout. His performance was the first complete game thrown for Northridge since Paul Tremlin did it against UC Davis on May 1, 2010, and the first shutout thrown by an individual Matador since Edwin Quirarte's on April 30, 2006 at UC Santa Barbara. In his final start of the season, he pitched 6.2 innings and struck out five while allowing just one unearned run in a 5-4 victory over No. 9 Cal State Fullerton. On the year, Roberts compiled a 3.44 ERA with a team-high 55 strikeouts. In conference play, Roberts worked for a 3-1 record and a 2.20 ERA in 45.0 innings. For his efforts this season, Roberts was selected as an Honorable Mention in the yearly conference awards by Big West Coaches.

Breathing a Simis of Relief

Redshirt sophomore Tommy Simis quietly came on strong for the Matadors in the later stages of the season. Simis' solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against UC Riverside (5/15) sparked an epic six-run rally to tie the game at 8-8 and force extra innings. He then reached base in the 10th and scored the winning run with one out to complete the comeback. Simis doubled and tripled on the final day of the year, driving in two runs against No. 9 Cal State Fullerton as well. On the season, Simis hit .258 with 11 doubles, 29 RBI and tied for the team lead with four home runs. His doubles total was second-best on the team and he tied for second-most RBI and had the third-most runs scored (29).

Where There's a Williams, There's a Way

Freshman Miles Williams embraced his opportunities in a starting role late in the year and had the best three-game stretch of his young career against UC Riverside (5/13 - 5/15). Williams had a single and scored a run in the opener, went 2-for-4 on Saturday, and went 3-for-4 with a walk, run scored, and reached on an error in the 10th inning in the 9-8 win on Sunday. He also had a two-out RBI single in a 2-0 win at Long Beach State (5/20). Williams, in conference games, had a batting average of .267, and had 12 of his 17 hits in the Big West season.

The Anchor in the Outfield

Redshirt junior Andrew Muren doubled in two runs to tie the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against UC Riverside (5/15) and posted three hits (two doubles) in four at-bats and scored three runs in Northridge's 13-6 victory over Pacific on April 21. He 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 home runs, 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. He added a 3-for-4 game with one run against Long Beach State on May 22. In the three game series against UC Santa Barbara, Muren gunned down two runners, one at the plate, and made a long run and diving catch to save another run. 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. Muren finished the year third in the conference with 17 doubles and tied for eighth with 37 runs scored in 2011. For his work this season, Muren was selected to the All-Big West Second Team by the conference coaches.

The Flyin' Hawaiian

Senior outfielder Ridge Carpenter tripled twice at UNLV (4/5), becoming the first Matador with two triples in a game since 1998. Against Long Beach State on May 21, Carpenter went 4-for-4 for the first four-hit game of his Northridge career. He added six hits in the series against Pacific (4/21 - 4/23) and two against UC Santa Barbara on April 26 and is the team leader in multiple-hit games with 17. He had five hits over three games against UC Riverside (5/13 - 5/15) and stole his 15th base of the year. In Northridge's 10-3 victory on Feb. 19, Carpenter went 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Over the summer, he was ranked as one of the top ten recruits competing in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League for his success as a member of the Kauai Menehunes. His speed and skill led him to be named the Best Base-runner in the Big West in a College Baseball Insider poll of conference coaches. Carpenter started all but game in the outfield for Northridge this season and finished the year tied with Tommy Simis for the team lead with four home runs. He ended his final season at Northridge tied for second in the Big West with four triples and tied for third in stolen bases (16).

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, third baseman, catcher and relief pitcher for the Matadors so far this year and owns a .278 batting average. On the mound, Goossen-Brown compiled a 4.74 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 49.1 innings pitched and tied for the team lead this year with four victories.

Barry Nice!

Junior Adam Barry may have been new to the Matadors this season, but he quickly solidified himself as an offensive threat in the Big West. Although he ranked tied for fifth on the team with 46 hits, Barry was a spark for Northridge at the plate and owned the fourth highest batting average on the squad at .288. He had eight hits in the series against Pacific at Matador Field (4/21 - 4/23) and had his Big West Conference-leading 15-game hitting streak broken up in the weekend series at UC Davis. The hitting streak held up as tied for the longest in the conference this season.

A Golden State of Mind

Of the 56 games on the schedule in 2011, only five were played outside the state of California. Northridge welcomed Seattle University, Valparaiso, Lafayette and UNLV to Matador Field this season, but only made a return trip to Las Vegas before the year was through. The Matadors competed in the four-day YMBL Cardinal Classic on the campus of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas from Mar. 3 through 6. They then traveled 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 faced just six opponents that play their home games outside of the Golden State.

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.

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