Final Road Trip of Season pits Matadors Against Dirtbags

May 18, 2011

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The Matadors conclude the road portion of their schedule with a three-game Big West series this weekend at the Long Beach State 49ers. Northridge will look to win its second conference series of the season as they try to overtake the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in the Big West standings before the year is through. Following the set at Blair Field, the Matadors will return home for the final weekend of the season and a battle with the Cal State Fullerton Titans. All three games at Long Beach State will be broadcast with live stats on GameTracker and Internet radio on and Kevin Strauss will once again provide play-by-play coverage.

Conference Chatter

With only two weeks left in the regular season, the Matadors are solidifying their spot in the conference statistics. The team is currently fifth in the Big West with a .267 batting average and seventh with a .363 slugging percentage. The Matadors are now fifth the Big West in hits (433) and sixth in doubles (75), fourth in runs scored (238) and runs batted in (214), and tied for fifth in triples (9). When it comes to the long ball, no other team has hit more homeruns as Northridge leads the league with 21.

The Matadors are displaying excellent plate discipline as they are fourth in walks drawn (157) and times hit by pitch (53), and are fifth in sacrifice flies (20). Defensively, Northridge ranks sixth in the league in strikeouts recorded (299). The Matadors' pitching staff has hit the fifth-fewest batters in the league (38), is fourth in the conference in saves converted (11), and is tied for fourth in successful pick-offs (9). All statistics are accurate as of May 16.

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).

A Closer Look at Long Beach State

Cal State Northridge will travel to Long Beach State for its final road series of the season this weekend. The Matadors and 49ers will play three games, one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Dirtbags are coming off of a weekend that saw them being swept on the road at Cal State Fullerton. They scored 15 runs over the three games with just one home run. Long Beach State will play a non-conference game on Wednesday night against Pepperdine in a contest that was rescheduled from Tuesday due to rain.

Coming into the week, Ino Patron leads the squad in hitting with a .306 batting average and three home runs. Patron has a team-high .412 slugging percentace and has also driven in 24 runs. Mike Marjama also has steady numbers at the top with a .305 batting average, eight doubles, two triples, a home run and 24 RBI. Marjama has started every game for Long Beach State while Patron has missed just one.

Andrew Gagnon has been a force in the Big West thanks to his work on the mound for the 49ers. Gagnon has started 13 games and has thrown one complete game, amassing a 2.83 ERA and a 4-8 record. He has collected 78 strikeouts in 86.0 innings to 32 walks.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors were able to save one game in dramatic fashion in a weekend series against the UC Riverside Highlanders at Matador Field. In the series-opener on Friday, the Highlanders took an early 3-0 lead before Northridge chipped away to cut the margin to 3-2 after seven innings. Six runs in the top of the eighth for UC Riverside broke the game open and the Matadors could not mount a late rally, falling 9-2.

On Saturday, a first-inning run for the Highlanders held up as they built an 8-0 lead following a six-run seventh inning. Andrew Muren and Tommy Simis each had an RBI for the Matadors in the bottom of the eighth but Northridge fell 8-2 to lose the series. The highlight of the weekend, however, came in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Steven Keller hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth to keep the game close. UC Riverside rallied for late runs yet again, scoring three in the eighth and two in the ninth to extend its lead to 8-2. Facing a mountain to overcome, the Matadors quickly faced their final out before Tommy Simis homered to left field to spark the biggest comeback for Northridge this season. A two-run single for Adam Barry and a two-run double for Andrew Muren tied the game at 8-8 and forced extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, a bunt single for Matthew Moreno scored Simis from third to win the game.

Yard Work

The Matadors continue to rank at the top of the Big West with the long ball. Most recently, a Tommy Simis solo shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth sparked 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 lead the Big West Conference (21) as 11 different Matadors have gone yard this season.

Winning the Arms Race

The Matadors have been able to win close games as of late thanks in large part to the defense. Whether they are turning timely double plays or throwing out runners on the basepaths, the Matadors are sending 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 base paths, once at the plate and once at second base.

Breathing a Simis of Relief

Redshirt sophomore Tommy Simis has quietly come 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. On the season, Simis is hitting .263 with 10 doubles, 26 RBI and a team-high four home runs. His doubles total is second-best on the team, he has the third-most RBI and the third-most runs scored (27).

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

Freshman Miles Williams has embraced his opportunities in a starting role of late 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 10 inning in the 9-8 win on Sunday. Williams has the second-highest batting average for the Matadors in conference games at .321 and has nine of his 14 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. 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 is currently tied for second in the conference with 16 doubles and is tied for fifth in runs batted in (32). He is also tied for sixth with 36 runs scored in 2011.

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. 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 has started all but game in the outfield for Northridge this season and is currently ninth in the Big West for runs scored (34) and is second in stolen bases (15).

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.

A Golden State of Mind

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

Survey Says...

The 2011 Cal State Northridge baseball team received 13 points and was picked to finish in ninth place this season by the Big West coaches, as announced by the conference office in late January. Cal State Fullerton was the unanimous choice as the preseason favorite, receiving all nine first-place votes for 81 points. The Titans won their 15th Big West crown in 2010 and made their 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UC Irvine and UC Riverside each received 65 points to tie for second in the poll. Cal Poly was selected to finish fourth and Long Beach State nabbed the fifth spot with 47 points despite finishing in last place in the conference in 2010. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara received 36 points in the poll to check in at sixth, and the Matadors will face UCSB five times in 2011. Pacific came in seventh as they narrowly edged UC Davis by four points in the poll.

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