Baseball: Matadors continue road-heavy part of schedule with four games in three days at Saint Mary’s
CSUN hasn’t really dominated the mound and the plate simultaneously this season, but if Tuesday’s 12-1 win over Loyola Marymount is a sign of things to come, it will surely benefit the Matadors this weekend at St. Mary’s.
Northridge (10-11) used the combination of precise pitching and an offensive outburst to end its recent offensive drought but will need to see some consistency in both departments when it visits St. Mary’s for four games in three days, including a Saturday doubleheader.
“We just need to go up there with the right approach,” said outfielder Adam Barry. “If we stick to that, I think good things are going to happen just like it happened (against LMU).”
The bats of Northridge haven’t been quiet much this season but they also hadn’t brought the necessary runs around in recent games.
Although it has cost the Matadors some games, it isn’t one of the worries for head coach Matt Curtis.
“We’ve been getting people on base and in position to score,” Curtis said. “We did that last weekend in Portland but a lot of things come into play…we put ourselves in position but we just didn’t capitalize on it. (Tuesday) we put ourselves in position and did get the hits at the right time.”
The streaking offense of junior Cal Vogelsang combined with the bats of sophomore Miles Williams and Barry will help the run support for the Matadors’ pitching staff.
Vogelsang has hit safely in five straight games and now owns a .262 batting average with eight RBI and a homerun.
Barry leads all Matadors with a .364 average and has 10 runs batted-in while in his designated hitter role.
“I’m just trying to stick to the plan,” Barry said. “I’m just being relaxed at the plate and I’m not trying to muscle anything up.”
Williams has hit consistently in seven of his eight last appearances and leads Northridge with 3 homeruns and a team-high 14 RBI.
The Gaels (11-7) have had mixed results on the diamond as of late after winning its first five games of the season. St. Mary’s beat UC Davis in its last game, winning 5-2 behind strong performances by its usual leaders.
Senior Troy Channing leads all Gaels with a .400 batting average in 55 at bats leading to 11 RBI and a .468 on base percentage. Fellow infielder Chris Murphy has started 16 games and also has 11 RBI this year for St. Mary’s. Both have combined for 30 hits and could pose a problem for the CSUN pitching staff.
The Matadors will also have to plan on seeing the Gaels’ Martin Agosto and Kyle Barraclough on the mound, who have both started four games this season. Agosto has only given up eight runs in 28 innings pitched while striking out 24 hitters. Barraclough has struck out 31 hitters in his 25 IP and has only given up nine earned runs.
Matador ace Alex Muren is due to start one of the four matchups this weekend. The junior has a 4.13 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings of work. Muren has one complete this season and has pitched seven innings in three of his four wins.
“The mindset’s still the same,” Muren said. “I’m going to keep my mental focus. I just need to focus on what I can control and go out every pitch with as much aggression as I can.”
Freshman Jerry Keel will also make a start this weekend and try to keep his team-leading 1.63 earned run average intact. The lefty has pitched 27 2/3 innings in six appearances and has only given up seven runs, five earned, in those outings.
“The times when (the offense is) not happening for us is the times when the pitching needs to put us in position to push a few and squeak a few past to win some games,” Curtis said.
Senior Vincent Roberts will take the mound Friday followed by Muren and Keel on Saturday. CSUN’s Sunday starter has not been announced.