Baseball Preview: Northridge

Cal State Fullerton is coming off of their bye week in the Big West schedule and took advantage of the opportunity to rest up many of the banged up players on the roster.

  Before going into their weekend off, the Titans won four straight games against Long Beach and LMU and came back from their time off by beating San Diego on Tuesday and they go into this weekend needing only one win to wrap up their second straight conference championship.

Fullerton opened the series against Long Beach by winning 4-2 on Friday in a matchup of two pitchers – Noe Ramirez and Drew Gagnon – expected to be drafted in the first couple of rounds in June.  Gagnon continued to be a hard luck pitcher as Ramirez held the Dirtbags to one run on two hits with seven strikeouts in eight innings and Nick Ramirez allowed an unearned run while finishing things off for the save.  The Titans were led at the plate by Michael Lorenzen's three hits, a run and an RBI, Richy Pedroza's two hits and a run and Nick Ramirez's Big West leading ninth HR.

While runs were expected to be difficult to come by on Friday, nothing could have prepared the fans and teams for what happened in Saturday's wild 14-12 win in one of the crazier games ever played at Goodwin Field.  The Titans got out to a 9-0 lead after two innings and most people were figuring that the game was in the bag, except for the Dirtbags.  Tyler Pill didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning but he had already allowed two runs by then thanks to some shaky defense.  The next hitter for Long Beach after the no-hitter was broken up hit a three run HR and it was suddenly 9-5.  The Dirtbags scored two more runs in the fifth, two more in the sixth to tie the game and two more in the seventh to take the lead.  Fullerton came back to take the lead in the seventh on a three run double by Pedroza and scored two more runs in the eighth to put the game away.  Jake Floethe pitched a scoreless eighth to get the win and Ramirez picked up another save despite allowing another unearned run in the ninth.  Lorenzen had three more hits and four RBI on his way to winning Big West player of the week honors, Pedroza had two hits and four RBI and eight of the starters got hits and Fullerton had a season high nine walks, three of them by Pill.

Fullerton finished off the sweep on Senior Day with a 6-1 win as the Titans defeated Long Beach for the 12th time in 13 games over the last three seasons.  Colin O'Connell was dominant as he shut out the Dirtbags for six innings and allowed only three hits before allowing an unearned run in the seventh.  Seniors Ryan Ackland and Raymond Hernandez finished things off by retiring all four batters they faced.  Fullerton was held scoreless the first time through the lineup but scored runs in four of the last five innings to win going away.  Six different Titans drove in runs, Nick Ramirez had three hits, Keegan Dale had two and senior Zach Tanida scored twice.

Fullerton was supposed to play two midweek games last week but the game at UCLA was cancelled because they couldn't get all of the lights to work at Jackie Robinson Stadium.  The Titans won the only midweek game they played with an 8-1 win against LMU, the third time the Titans defeated the Lions this season.  Seven Fullerton pitchers combined to hold LMU to only five hits and the offense was led by Pedroza's three runs, Pill's three hits and Ramirez's two RBI.

Fullerton came back from their weekend off and extended their winning streak to five games with a 6-4 win against San Diego.  Lorenzen drove in two runs with a two out single in the fourth inning to give the Titans the lead and Fullerton scored four more runs in the seventh inning to give them a five run lead with Pill finishing off the scoring with a two run single.  The Toreros rallied to score three runs in the ninth and Ramirez was summoned over from 1B to finish things off for his Big West leading fifteenth save and he moved into second on Fullerton's single season save list and is one away from tying the school career save record.

Fullerton will wrap up the regular season this weekend with a series at Cal State Northridge.  The magic number for the Titans is one as they look to finish off the Big West title race early in the series to keep the pressure off.  Fullerton is also looking to play well this weekend to stay in position to host a regional next weekend.

Cal State Northridge Matadors

  • Overall Record – 22-31 in 2011; 29-27 in 2010
  • Conference Record – 5-16 in 2011 (9th); 9-15 in 2010 (tie for 7th).   
  • 2010 Post-Season – None
  • 2011 RPI/ISR – 235/176.  2010 RPI/ISR – 125/73
  • Current ranking – None
  • Predicted conference finish – 9th by the Big West coaches and 7th by the Baseball America

 

2010 Summary and 2011 Preview

Cal State Northridge thought they had a chance to be improved in 2010 with an experienced roster returning both at the plate and on the mound and the Matadors went 29-27 for their first winning record in Steve Rousey's eight year tenure as the head coach.  But, Northridge only finished tied for 7th in the Big West at 9-15 and the results ultimately weren't enough to save Rousey's job and he was replaced after the season by Fresno State assistant coach Matt Curtis.

Curtis started making his imprint on the roster by bringing in thirteen newcomers with quite a few of them seeing playing time right away.  The Matadors got off to a decent start at 14-11 but many of those games were played against mediocre competition with series against teams like Seattle, Valparaiso, Lafayette and Sacramento State.  Northridge wasn't really prepared for what hit them in Big West play and they started out 1-11 after being swept by UC Irvine and Cal Poly, losing the series to Pacific and being swept by UC Davis with the pitching staff getting abused and allowing at least 20 runs in each series.  The Matadors have started to pitch better lately and have gone 4-5 in their last three conf series after winning their series with UCSB, losing their series to UC Riverside and losing a hard fought series at Long Beach last weekend with the final game decided in extra innings.

Northridge's offensive attack was impacted by the new BBCOR bats more than most of the other Big West teams because they play in a ballpark that favors HR hitters and they also lost three hitters who received All-Big West honors in 2010.  The Matadors still lead the Big West with 21 HR's (after hitting 49 last season) but they have had trouble scoring runs and have been held to four runs or less in 21 of the 27 games they have played over the last nine weekends.  Northridge's offensive numbers are down like they are for most teams and they have played more little ball this season by bunting more often but they are running less after stealing 88 bases in 2010.
 
Northridge expected to have an improved pitching staff with so many of their starting pitchers back but they haven't had any consistency from their pitchers until recently.  The Matadors have been shuffling pitchers back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen but have started the same three pitchers the last three weekends.  Northridge ranks near the bottom of the Big West in almost every pitching category and they have allowed at least six runs in just over half of their games.


 
Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 99 (decreases offense by 1%).  The park factor at Northridge is usually in the 110 range and the park has short dimensions – 325 in the corners and 375 in the power alleys.
  • Batting Average – .263 (6th in the Big West).  .302 in 2010 (7th in the Big West)
  • Runs Per Game – 4.6 (4th).  6.7 in 2010 (5th).
  • Home Runs – 21 (1st).  49 in 2010 (3rd).
  • Slugging Percentage – .357 (6th).  .452 in 2010 (4th).
  • Walks – 166 (4th), 3.1 per game.  190 in 2010 (3rd), 3.4 per game.
  • HBP's – 55 (4th).  77 in 2010 (3rd).
  • Strikeouts – 317 (4th), 6.0 per game.  371 in 2010 (3rd), 6.6 per game.
  • Stolen Bases – 46-65 (4th).  88-111 in 2010 (2nd).
  • Sac Bunts – 44 (5th).  28 in 2010 (8th).

Lineup

Infield

Northridge had some rebuilding to do in the infield with only two starters returning and one of them hasn't played for over a month due to injuries.  JC transfers are starting at three of five positions.

C – Soph #14 Marty Bowen (RH – .315/.358/.352, 0-21-0; '10 – .271 in 59 AB's) was a seldom-used backup in 2010 and was mostly DH'ing and starting once a weekend behind the plate but he has taken over as the starter and has caught 21 of the last 22 games.  He is tied for the team lead in AVG but doesn't walk much with only 11 BB and has very little power with only four extra-base hits. Bowen has been hitting 5th recently.

DH – JC transfer #1 Steven Keller (Both – .272/.369/.370, 3-29-2) was starting most of the time at catcher for the first half of the season but has settled into the DH spot over the last 20+ games.  Keller is a solid run producer who is 2nd on the team in RBI while usually hitting cleanup.  He has a very good BB/K ratio (22/23).

1B – JC transfer #20 Adam Barry (LH – .283/.321/.349, 0-14-5) was playing mostly LF earlier in the season but has taken over recently at 1B, where Northridge has had issues replacing three year starter Dominic D'Anna.  He does a good job of making contact with only 14 K but rarely walks with only 3 BB.  Barry has good speed for a 1B but doesn't have much power for the position.  He has recently settled into the second spot in the lineup.  Soph #23 Chris Allen (RH – .189 in 74 AB's) was seeing more playing time earlier in the year but hasn't played much lately with some of the lineup shuffling over the last few weeks.

2B – SR #2 TS Reed (RH – .239/.326/.310, 1-18-3; '10 – .323/.376/.395, 0-25-11; '09 – .234/.317/.266, 0-9-7) is in his fourth year as a starter in the middle infield, starting at 2B as a FR and at SS the last two seasons before moving back to 2B this year.  He has had the unenviable task of taking over for Ryan Pineda, who was first team All-Big West and hit 16 HR with 66 RBI in 2010.  Reed is a gritty little player who will work counts, crowd the plate (team leading 8 HBP) and rarely strikes out (14 K).  He is also a good bunter and has led the team in SAC's the last two seasons (9 in 2010, 8 this year) and will usually hit 9th.  Reed went 3-7 in last year's series against Fullerton and is 8-33 in his career against the Titans.

SS – Soph #5 Tommy Simis (RH – .256/.333/.387, 4-27-4) barely played last season (6 AB's) but has been in the lineup almost every day.  He played most of the season at 3B before shifting over to SS a few weeks ago.  Simis has some pop in his bat and leads the team in HR and is 3rd in RBI and SLG.  He has usually been hitting 6th.  Soph #6 Kyle Attl (RH – .241/.310/.319, 1-15-0) started most of the season at SS after only getting 5 AB's in 2010 but hasn't started in the last few weeks after Simis moved over from 3B.    

3B – JC transfer #9 Matthew Moreno (RH – .185 in 27 AB's) moved into the lineup recently with Simis moving over to SS.  He has played solid defense but struggled at the plate and usually hits 8th.
 

Outfield

Northridge returns two starters in the OF who are two of the best players on the team and they have been platooning at the other spot in the OF.

LF – SR #11 Ridge Carpenter (RH – .304/.388/.498, 3-19-15; '10 – .298/.371/.399, 2-31-20) came in as a JC transfer in 2010 and made an instant impact with his speed and he was 3rd in the Big West in SB.  He was a free swinger and was second in the conf with 56 strikeouts but has done a good job of making better contact as the leadoff hitter and cut that number down to 35.  Carpenter is in the top ten in the Big West in R, 3B, SB and BB.  He went 3-10 at Fullerton last season.

CF – JR #51 Drew Muren (LH – 315, 407/.464, 3-32-9; '10 – .290/.388/.396, 3-21-13; medical redshirt in 2009; '08 – .270/.317/.351, 1-14-2) is one of the best athletes on the team, has been their best player and leads them in AVG and OBP and is in the top ten in the Big West in R, 2B, RBI, TB, SLG and BB.  Muren was also among the conf leaders in strikeouts in 2010 but has done a solid job of making more contact this season and has a good BB/K ratio (25/31).  He will be hitting 3rd.  Muren went 2-10 at Fullerton last season.

RF – FR #13 Miles Williams (RH – .271 in 59 AB's) has moved into the lineup in the last couple of weeks and been hitting 7th.  He has 16 hits in the 26 AB's when he has made contact but making contact has been a major issue because he has struck out 33 times in 59 AB's.  Williams also isn't that patient with only four BB.

Defense

Fielding % – .968 (6th) with 64 errors.  .959 (9th) with 90 errors in 2010.
 
Northridge's defense is better this season, going from bad to average, and part of that has been due to cutting down on the errors by the pitchers from 19 to 10.  Barry, Reed, Simis and Moreno are all average around the infield.  Carpenter is a good OF and Muren is one of the best OF's in the Big West.
 
Stolen Base Attempts – 49-69 (4th).  59-76 (7th) in 2010

Northridge's defense against the running game improved when Bowen started doing the catching on a regular basis.  Runners are only 18-29 against him.
 
WP's/PB's Allowed – 45 (5th).  2010 – 55 (7th).
 
Bowen does a good job at blocking pitches.
 

Pitching

  • ERA – 5.29 (8th in the Big West).  5.81 in 2010 (6th in the Big West).
  • BA – .313 (8th).  .306 in 2010 (4th).
  • Walks – 183 (8th), 3.8 BB/9 IP.  195 (7th), 3.5 BB/9 IP in 2010.
  • Strikeouts – 309 (7th), 6.5 K/9 IP.  319 (6th), 5.7 K/9 IP in 2010.
  • Extra Base Hits – 147 (9th), 2.8 per game.  170 (4th), 3.0 per game in 2010.
  • HR – 34 (9th).  66 HR in 2010 (9th).

Starters

Northridge returned pitchers who started 49 of their games last season so they expected the rotation to be one of their stronger areas but some of the pitchers they were counting on haven't pitched well and only one of the weekend starters pitched for them last year with the other two spots being taken over by JC transfers.

FRI – JC transfer #27 Vincent Roberts (RHP – 2-6, 3.75 ERA, 15 apps, 10 GS, 1 SHO, 1 save, 74 IP, 65 H, 28 BB, 50 K, .243 BA, 5 HR, 6 HBP, 9 WP, 9-14 SB) had his struggles earlier in the year as he adjusted to D1 ball and was moved between the rotation and the bullpen.  He started to gain some confidence in a six inning relief appearance at Irvine when he allowed only one run and has been effective in Big West games with a 2.58 ERA.  Roberts had his first conf start two weeks ago and shut out UCSB for seven innings, struggled against Riverside when he allowed 3 R on 4 H and 4 BB in 4 IP but turned it around last weekend at Long Beach when he threw a shutout and allowed only four hits.  Roberts has good stuff and can be tough to hit when his control is on.

SAT – SR #24 Paul Tremlin (RHP – 2-6, 4.11 ERA, 20 apps, 9 GS, 2 saves, 61 IP, 76 H, 13 BB, 30 K, .323 BA, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 0 WP, 8-10 SB; '10 – 7-6, 6.17 ERA, 19 apps, 12 GS, 1 CG, 70 IP, 80 H, 27 BB, 52 K, .289 BA, 12 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 8-13 SB) is one of the veterans of the pitching staff and has been a swingman between the rotation and the bullpen for the last three years.  He was a bit of a good luck charm over the last two years when he led the staff in wins each year when he went 14-7 despite an ERA over five in both seasons.  Tremlin is a control specialist who doesn't throw hard and has to keep the ball down to be successful.  He has done a solid job of keeping Northridge in the game in his last three starts against UCSB (6 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K), Riverside (5 2/3 IP, 2 R, 9 H, 0 BB, 1 K) and Long Beach (6 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K).  Tremlin has allowed 6 R in 4 IP in four appearances in his career against Fullerton.

SUN – JC transfer #3 Carlos Gonzalez (RHP – 1-3, 5.58 ERA, 16 apps, 9 GS, 40 IP, 50 H, 25 BB, 31 K, .314 BA, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 7 WP, 3-5 SB) is the hardest thrower of the starters but also has had the most issues with his control.  He also has been a swingman between the rotation and the bullpen before settling into the weekend rotation over the last month.  He struggled in his starts at Davis (4 R in 2 IP) and UCSB (3 R in 2 2/3 IP) but threw better in his last two starts against Riverside (6 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K) and Long Beach (6 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K) when he had better command.



Relievers

Northridge has had lots of guys bouncing back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen so they have eight pitchers who have thrown at least 35 innings and have a fairly deep bullpen.  They have done a good job of finishing games and are 18-2 when they lead after seven innings and 18-0 when leading going into the ninth inning.

Closer – JC transfer #10 Josh Goossen-Brown (RHP – 4-3, 4.34 ERA, 18 apps, 4 GS, 5 saves, 48 IP, 68 H, 7 BB, 39 K, .335 BA, 4 HR, 1 HBP, 3 WP, 5-7 SB) is a good athlete who has also been a position player but has been focusing on pitching recently.  He has usually thrown well this season, especially out of the bullpen, and his stats were a bit skewed by two bad starts against Cal Poly (7 R in 3 1/3 IP) and Pacific (8 ER in 3 1/3 IP).  He has good control but he has had issues with his pitches being too straight and getting teed off on.

SR #32 Ryan Juarez (RHP – 4-6, 5.58 ERA, 21 apps, 4 GS, 2 saves, 61 IP, 85 H, 26 BB, 42 K, .329 BA, 2 HR, 5 HBP, 3 WP, 1-2 SB; '10 – 3-7, 5.52 ERA, 16 GS, 1 CG, 90 IP, 114 H, 28 BB, 57 K, .302 BA, 12 HR, 5 HBP, 10 WP, 9-11 SB) has mostly been a starter in his first three seasons and was 7-5 in 2009 but has pitched mostly out of the bullpen this year.  He was moved back into the rotation at Cal Poly but lost that start and his subsequent starts against Pacific and Davis.  Juarez did pick up the win against UCSB with three solid innings of relief before getting hit around by Riverside when he allowed 5 R in 1/3 IP.  He has allowed 15 R in 16 IP in three starts against Fullerton in his career, including 5 R on 10 H in 4 IP last season.

JR #4 Justen Gorski (RHP – 3-5, 6.36 ERA, 15 apps, 9 GS, 1 save, 47 IP, 63 H, 17 BB, 34 K, .323 BA, 4 HR, 2 HBP, 4 WP, 9-10 SB; '10 – 5-3, 5.37 ERA, 1 save, 21 apps, 5 GS, 57 IP, 72 H, 17 BB, 31 K, .309 BA, 6 HR, 4 HBP, 3 WP, 2-6 SB) has also been a swingman between the rotation and the bullpen during his career.  His only start during the Big West season was in their opening series at Irvine when he allowed 5 R in 4 1/3 IP.  Gorski has allowed 9 R in 10 IP in two starts against Fullerton.

Other relievers who will be available this weekend:

JR #18 Chris DeBoo (RHP –1-1, 3.43 ERA, 14 apps, 24 IP, 26 H, 6 BB, 15 K, .286 BA, 2 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 2-5 SB).

Soph #15 Alex Muren (RHP – 2-1, 4.69 ERA, 13 apps, 5 GS, 40 IP, 42 H, 22 BB, 22 K, .276 BA, 3 HR, 4 HBP, 1 WP, 5-7 SB).

Soph #26 Jacob Petersen (LHP – 3-0, 7.23 ERA, 19 apps, 2 GS, 37 IP, 59 H, 15 BB, 31 K, .369 BA, 4 HR, 5 HBP, 5 WP, 4-5 SB).
 

Outlook           
 
Fullerton goes into this series almost as healthy as they have been since early in the season and the Titans would like to go into the post-season staying that way.  Fullerton is going with their regular starting rotation of Ramirez, Pill and O'Connell but would like to give the rest of the pitching staff some work this weekend to get ready for the regionals.
 
Northridge has been playing better recently and isn't going to roll over for Fullerton.  The Matadors have been making things difficult for their opponents and have played much better at home during the conference schedule than they have on the road.
 
Fullerton is obviously the better team in this series with the Titans sitting at the top of the conference standings and the Matadors bringing up the rear.  If Northridge keeps playing hard and gets solid pitching like they did last weekend at Long Beach they have a chance to make things interesting but they figure to have trouble scoring against the Fullerton pitching staff and the Titans shouldn't have much of a problem winning this series.