The Matadors lost their best hitter from last season and a couple of other starters but figured they should be better offensively and they definitely have been with a .308 AVG, .384 OBP and .462 SLG % while averaging seven runs per game and hitting 49 HR’s (2nd or 3rd in the Big West in each of those categories). Northridge will work counts and swing for the fences because they are also 3rd in the conference in walks and strikeouts. The Matadors won’t bunt much with only 24 SAC’s this season (13 by two players) but they will try to run when they get on base and trail only Fullerton in the Big West with 83 SB’s and are efficient when they run with a 78% success rate.
Northridge traditionally has one of the poorer defensive teams in the Big West and that is the case again this season because the Matadors are last in the conference with 85 errors and a .959 FLD % after making 100 errors for a .956 FLD % in 2009. Northridge made at least four errors in seven straight series (six errors in four of them) before making only two errors in last weekend’s sweep of Long Beach. The middle infield defense for the Matadors has been pretty solid with only 14 errors by their starters but a major issue for Northridge has been the pitchers hurting their own cause by making 19 errors.
Northridge returned experienced players at each position except behind the plate, although there has been shuffling around at a couple of positions.
C – JC transfer #31 Dominic Piazza (LH – .292/.351/.358, 1-17-0) has taken over behind the plate after both C’s from 2009 moved on and he has done a decent job hitting and on defense. He will usually hit 8th and has gone 4-11 in his three starts over the last week. Runners are 33-43 on SB attempts against Piazza and Northridge has allowed 42 WP’s, the 3rd fewest in the Big West. FR #14 Marty Bowen (RH – .276 in 58 AB’s) has started 12 games and will probably start once this weekend.
1B – JR #30 Dominic D’Anna (LH – .348/.426/.552, 8-47-2; ‘09 stats – .326/.410/.587, 7-32-0) has struggled with injuries in his first two years (missed the last 20 games in 2009) but has played in every game this season and been a productive hitter, ranking in the top ten in the Big West in HR, RBI, 2B and BB and he has a solid 26-32 BB/K ratio for a power hitter. D’Anna is the cleanup hitter and has gone 8-23 with 4 RBI over his last five games. He is a solid athlete around the 1B bag and does a good job on defense. D’Anna went 4-13 with an HR and 6 RBI in last year’s series against Fullerton.
2B – JR #17 Ryan Pineda (RH – .333/.404/.621, 16-66-24; ’09 stats – .294/.385/.500, 10-44-2) was the Big West FR of the Year in 2008 and has moved all over the diamond his first two seasons, playing 3B, 1B and OF, before settling in at 2B this year. He hits 3rd, has been one of the best players in the conference and leads the Big West in HR and RBI and is 2nd in SB. Pineda is also in the top ten in the conference in R, H, TB and SLG. The only thing that Pineda struggles with is striking out and he is 7th in the Big West with 43 K’s. Pineda has been swinging a hot stick over the last four games, going 8-18 with 2 HR and 8 RBI. Despite playing 2B for the first time, he has been solid defensively and committed only six errors for a .973 FLD %. Pineda went 3-13 in last year’s series against Fullerton and is 7-26 in his career against the Titans.
SS – JR #2 TS Reed (RH – .319/.371/.388, 0-23-11; ’09 stats – .234/.317/.266, 0-9-7) is in his third year as a starter in the middle infield, starting at 2B as a FR and at SS the last two seasons. Reed will hit 9th, has good speed (10th in the Big West in SB) and leads the team with 7 SAC’s. He does not have much power with only 7 extra base hits. Reed has good range and has been solid defensively, making only eight errors for a .962 FLD %. He went 2-13 in last year’s series against Fullerton and is 5-26 in his career against the Titans.
3B – JR #28 Justin DeMarco (RH – .311/.416/.480, 5-27-3; ’09 stats – .246/.338/.322, 2-18-3) has been one of the most improved players offensively and is very patient at the plate (3rd in the Big West in BB) with an outstanding 29/21 BB/K ratio. DeMarco has moved over to 3B after playing most of the time at 2B in 2009. He will usually hit 6th or 7th and has cooled off recently, going 1-16 in his last four starts. DeMarco is 2nd on the team with 6 SAC’s. He has struggled with the move to 3B and is 4th in the Big West with 14 errors and has a .908 FLD %. DeMarco went 2-11 in last year’s series against Fullerton and is 3-21 in his career against the Titans.
JC transfer #1 Brad Decater (RH – .337/.427/.523, 4-23-2) has played occasionally at 2B and 3B. Decater has been a productive hitter when he has been in the lineup but is a poor defensive player (6 E’s, .850 FLD %).
Northridge lost their main CF from 2009 but returned players who have experience at playing all three OF positions.
LF – JC transfer #11 Ridge Carpenter (RH – .298/.374/.399, 2-30-19) has excellent speed (3rd in the Big West in SB) and has very good range in LF. He usually hits 6th or 7th and was swinging a hot bat against Long Beach, going 6-10 and scoring 6 R’s last weekend. Carpenter does have trouble making contact and leads the conference with 54 K’s.
CF – Soph #51 Drew Muren (LH – .294/.393/.406, 3-21-11; ’08 stats – .270/.317/.351, 1-14-2) was a medical redshirt in 2009 but has done a solid job as the leadoff hitter and leads the team with 12 HBP. He also has good speed (10th in the Big West in SB), covers ground well in CF and has a solid arm (came into Northridge as a P/OF). Muren also struggles with making contact and is 5th in the conference with 45 K’s.
RF – SR #25 C.J. Belanger (LH – .369/.438/.576, 4-42-5; ‘09 stats – .233/.332/.294, 0-12-6) was a part-time starter the three previous seasons before securing a full-time spot in RF as the #2 hitter in the lineup. He has been a key hitter during Northridge’s recent surge, going 10-17 over the last four games with an HR and 10 RBI to move into the top ten in the Big West in AVG. Belanger also has good speed, is in the top five in the Big West in 3B’s and has experience playing CF so he has good range for a RF. He went 1-8 in last year’s series against Fullerton and is 5-30 in his career against the Titans.
DH – FR #15 Alex Muren (RH – .270/.378/.514 in 37 AB’s, 1-6-0) barely played all season but has been in the lineup the past five games, going 3-17 over the last week.
FR #7 Nate Ring (RH – .308/.382/.486, 2-16-3) has been the 4th OF and was splitting time at DH with Decater before Muren was moved into the DH spot last week.