NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors will play a pair of midweek games this week when Bakersfield and Stony Brook visit Matador Field. After winning one of three games against West Virginia over the weekend, the Matadors remain at home for two contests before having the weekend off. CSUN starts the week on Tuesday, March 18, with an afternoon game against the CSUB Roadrunners and will face the Stony Brook Seawolves the next day. The Matadors will play their second game of the season against Bakersfield and will entertain Stony Brook for the first time since 2005. Both games this week will feature live stats and Internet radio coverage available for free on GoMatadors.com. In addition, fans are encouraged to follow @CSUN_InGame and @CSUNBaseball on Twitter for live scoring updates for every game this season.
GAME #22: Matadors (8-13) vs. Bakersfield Roadrunners (7-11, 1-2 WAC)
Tuesday, March 18 - 3 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.
GAME #23: Matadors vs. Stony Brook Seawolves (5-8)
Wednesday, March 19 - 3 p.m.
Matador Field (1,000) - Northridge, Calif.
Matadors Add Game vs. Washington State
Due to the loss of a game on February 28th (rain), the Cal State Northridge Matadors have rescheduled a single game against Washington State for Monday, March 24, at 2 p.m. The Matadors and Cougars were originally scheduled to play a four-game series at the end of February but it was shortened to three games due to the major rains that came to the San Fernando Valley. With the Cougars in town next weekend to play UCLA, the two teams were able to schedule the make-up contest. For more information about any schedule changes for CSUN Baseball, please visit GoMatadors.com and follow @CSUNBaseball on Twitter.
Follow Your Matadors While On-the-Go
Fans can now follow all of the action for Cal State Northridge's 19 varsity sports right from their phone or tablet! CSUN Front Row, the official mobile app of Cal State Northridge Athletics, is available for free for your iOS and Android devices. Rather than having to navigate to GoMatadors.com from your phone, you can now catch up on the latest scores, schedules and news right from a single app. You can also access live stats coverage of a majority of CSUN home events, as well as audio and video links when available. For more information, search for CSUN Front Row on the App Store or Google Play or visit GoMatadors.com/frontrow.
A Closer Look at Bakersfield
The CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners are 7-11 overall this season and are yet to win a game away from Hardt Field. In their previous meeting this season, CSUB defeated the Matadors 3-1 on March 4th in Bakersfield. The Matadors scored a run in the top of the first but allowed three runs in the sixth inning that decided the game. Most recently, the Roadrunners went 1-2 at home against Grand Canyon in their Western Athletic Conference opening series over the weekend.
Max Carter leads the team with a .333 batting average and has competed in 11 games this year. Among regular starters, Chance Gusbeth leads the way with a .304 average, three triples, 21 hits and 15 runs batted in. Jordie Hein continues to be a force at the plate and has a .288 average with 11 runs scored.
Alec Daily is scheduled to get the start in a controlled outing for the Roadrunners on Tuesday in Northridge. Daily is a left-handed pitcher and has a 0-1 record with a 4.85 ERA. He has previously made one start this year and has three strikeouts and eight walks issued in 13.0 innings of work. Daily is expected to see limited innings on Tuesday before the Roadrunners turn the ball over to the bullpen for a staff day. Following the midweek game with the Matadors, CSUB will host North Dakota in WAC play this weekend.
A Closer Look at Stony Brook
The Stony Brook Seawolves enter the week with a 5-8 record and are 1-6 in road games this season. Most recently, Stony Brook took one out of three games at UC Riverside over the weekend. The Seawolves will take on the USC Trojans in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening before heading to Northridge for a Wednesday afternoon affair. The Matadors won both games in a home series in 2005 and leads the all-time series with Stony Brook 2-0.
The Seawolves are led at the plate by Kevin Krause, who is batting .360 with 18 hits and 12 RBIs in 12 games. He has all three home runs this year for Stony Brook and is far and away the leader with a .560 slugging percentage. Robert Chavarria is second on the team among regular starters with a .317 batting average while Casey Baker is hitting .440 in limited action. As a team, the Seawolves are hitting .261 and are 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts this season.
No starting pitcher has been named yet for the Seawolves, though Ryley MacEachern and Tyler Honahan each have one start on the year and could be candidates for Stony Brook. MacEachern is 1-1 with a 6.28 ERA in 14.1 innings while Honahan is 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 8.1 innings this season. As a team, the Seawolves have a 5.01 ERA and are holding opponents to a .257 batting average.
Redefining the "Matador Defense"
The Matadors continue to pride themselves on playing smart and sound baseball defensively. In addition to improving its winning percentage each of the past three seasons, Cal State Northridge has also set program records for fielding percentage twice in that span. There were 16 Matadors last season that were perfect in their chances in the field and five others that had two errors or fewer all season. Last year Northridge recorded a .976 fielding percentage, which was good for third in the Big West Conference and also set a mark for the best ever in CSUN history. The Matadors also picked up 16 outfield assists in 2013 and look to build on that quality moving forward. The team currently has a .979 fielding percentage with 17 errors in 21 games, which is among the leaders in the nation.
Matadors in the Big West Rankings
With the first month of the season now completed, the Big West Conference has released its fifrth statistics standings of the year. The Matadors are currently eighth in batting average (.250), slugging percentage (.293), and on-base percentage (.331).The Matadors are sixth with 62 walks and check in at third in the league after being hit by a pitch 27 times. The team is third in the Big West Conference with 21 sacrifice bunts and is fourth with 21 stolen bases. Defensively, the Matadors are sixth in the Big West with a 3.53 ERA and are averaging over seven strikeouts recorded per game. The pitching staff is third with 148 strikeouts recorded after 21 games. CSUN has committed just 17 errors so far this year and has the best fielding percentage in the league at .979.
Individually, Nick Blaser is fourth in the Big West with a .400 batting average and Alexis Mercado is tied for 10th in the conference with four doubles on the year. Ryan Raslowsky has 26 hits and 10 stolen bases, ranking eighth and first, respectively. William Colantono (8th, 11) is among the leaders in walks drawn. Ranny Lowe has been hit by six pitches and ranks in a tie for second in the league with Brett Balkan while Balkan's five sac bunts lead all others. Jerry Keel is currently tied for eighth in the Big West with nine strikeouts looking on the year while Brycen Rutherford is eighth in innings pitched (34.1). Statistics are current as of March 17, 2014.
Junior left-handed pitcher Jerry Keel enters the season as the anchor of the pitching staff in 2014. The former Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and Freshman All-American is the Friday starter once more for Northridge and picked up right where he left off in the opening series at Bethune-Cookman. Although he took the loss, he pitched 7.0 strong innings with five strikeouts in a 2-1 decision. He walked three batters and allowed five hits, including just one double. He also pitched 6.2 innings against Seattle University and recorded six strikeouts. Against Washington State, Keel went 7.0 innings without allowing a run and struck out six. On the year, he has a 4.09 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 33.0 innings.
No Trouble in the Balkans
Senior Brett Balkan has taken the reigns as the starting shortstop and was one of two Matadors with three hits over the opening weekend. He drove in a run in CSUN's 2-1 win in the second game at Bethune-Cookman and added an insurance RBI in the 2-0 win in the finale. Balkan collected seven defensive assists on the weekend, including on a relayed throw to the plate to catch a runner trying to score. He went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored in the first game of a doubleheader against Seattle. In the marathon at LMU, Balkan had a hit, two walks, two runs scored and an RBI. On the season, Balkan is hitting .250 with a double in 20 starts.
Not a One-Man WolfPak
Junior Chester Pak picked up a couple of hits in the opening series at Bethune-Cookman and drove in the winning run in the top of the 11th inning in the second game. Pak is currently among the team leaders with 24 hits and also drew a couple of walks to help CSUN take two games against the Wildcats. He belted out six hits, including a pair of triples, in the series against Seattle and had five runs batted in. He also had a couple of hits and an RBI against Washington State and drove in two runs in the 13-inning game at Loyola Marymount. Pak turned in a career performance in th finale against West Virginia, going 4-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs. Pak is currently batting .308 with a team-high 15 RBIs in 21 games.
The Bull Market
Junior Alexis Mercado came up with big hits when the Matadors needed them in the opening series at Bethune-Cookman. His lone hit in the second game of the series was a double in the top of the 11th that eventually resulted in the game-winning run. He had a single, RBI and stolen base in the finale for CSUN, driving in the eventual winning run in the top of the sixth in a 2-0 victory. In the series against Seattle, he had a hit in three of the four games and had a career day in the first game of the doubleheader, going 4-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Mercado connected on the first CSUN home run of the season and had a total of seven hits, including a pair of doubles, against the Redhawks. He also had a double and a run batted in against Washington State in the series-opening win. He is batting .242 with eight RBIs in 2014.
Senior center fielder Ranny Lowe is providing a spark at at all spots in the order for the Matadors this season. After batting in the three-hole for the early part of the year, Lowe became the leadoff hitter for the series against Seattle and immediately made an impact on the lineup. Against the Redhawks Lowe recorded six hits, scored two runs and drove in his first run of the campaign. He also picked up his first stolen base of the season and went 5-for-9 across CSUN's doubleheader with Seattle on February 22. In the opener against Washington State, Lowe stole second base in the 10th and came around to score on a walkoff single. On the season, Lowe is batting .234 with 10 runs scored in 20 games.
Every Run Counts
After erupting for 22 runs in the series against Seattle, the Matadors posted just four runs in a series win over Washington State. Against the Cougars, a doubleheader featured 1-0 wins for each team and each game was decided by just one run. In the three games at Bethune-Cookman the two teams combined for eight runs, with the winner of each game needing just two to get the job done. In the series against Seattle the first team to score four runs won each game and with three runs in the first inning of game one of Saturday's doubleheader, CSUN scored more than two in a game for the first time this year. At this early point of the season, CSUN is 4-6 in games decided by one run and 2-3 when the margin is two runs.
The Matadors will face another challenging schedule this season as the team prepares itself for the Big West Conference slate and the postseason beyond. The season started with a three-game series at Bethune-Cookman, a program that has captured 15 MEAC championships since 1996. CSUN also played a midweek game at defending national champion UCLA. Other top teams on the schedule include Washington State, Pepperdine, Fresno State, Sam Houston State and TCU in non-conference games. The Matadors will also take on Stony Brook, a team that is just one season removed from the College World Series, for one game at Matador Field. The Big West schedule will feature home series against Long Beach State, Hawai'i, Cal Poly and UC Davis while CSUN will take on UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton on the road. In all, the Matadors will take on three teams, CSF (1), UCLA (10), TCU (23), in the USA Today Preseason Top 25 and two others (Cal Poly, UCSB) that received votes.
Cal State Northridge is now 28 wins from reaching the 1,600-mark in program history. The Matadors posted 31 wins a season ago, their highest win total in over a decade. With their first victory in 2014, the Matadors handed head coach Greg Moore the first win of his tenure at CSUN. Junior left-handed pitcher Jerry Keel is currently third in the school record book with a 2.34 career ERA and needs eight wins to enter the Top 10 while reliever Louis Cohen sits in a tie for ninth with six career saves. Ryan Raslowsky is one sacrifice bunt away from joining the Top 10 as he has 14 through his first two-plus seasons at Cal State Northridge.