Baseball: Matadors seek first Big West Conference win
Little has gone right for the Matadors lately.
The pitching is inconsistent, the bats are struggling and grabbing that elusive first conference victory has been as difficult as finding cheap gas.
As a result, the Cal State Northridge baseball team’s record has dropped to a season-low two games under .500 at 17-19 after losing 11 of the last 15 games.
The stretch has seen a season-worst four-game losing streak, a 3-10 road record and a disastrous 0-6 start in Big West Conference play.
Despite the substandard results, players remain optimistic and concentrated in beginning a run that would get them some wins.
“It’s tough starting at 0-6 (in Big West), but we just have to rebound and the pitching and hitting has to come in,” said Josh Goossen-Brown, who lost Saturday’s game after giving up seven runs on 12 hits. “All the games are the same, but we have to come in focused and get the win.”
One of the constant issues that have plagued the Matadors for a large part of the season has been the inconsistency to have the offense and defense work simultaneously in the same game.
“We just have to take it one game at a time. We see what we are capable of doing. We see hitting and pitching and we know what we can put both together at the same time. There is till enough time left for that to happen,” Goossen-Brown said.
After averaging almost six runs per game in the first 21 games of the season, CSUN seems lost at the plate while averaging just above three runs per game in the last 15 games. The team batting average has dropped to a season-low .255, second to last in the conference.
“Well we faced some good arms the last couple of weeks. We’re not changing things too much, but we haven’t had that many quality at-bats and part of it is the mindset,” first-year assistant coach Shaun Larkin said.
When the struggles at the plate have disappeared and the team started hitting, the Northridge hurlers seem to have left their arms in the bullpen.
The staff’s earned run average ballooned to 5.37, which is second to last in the conference and ahead of the University of the Pacific.
“One game at a time because it has just been two (Big West series) and we still have more left. If we win six straight or eight straight, we’re right back in the mix,” Larkin said. “Everything is magnified right now because of the zero conference wins, but if we stay consistent it’ll go our way.”
The Tigers (11-21, 3-6 Big West), which have had their share of misfortunes this season record-wise, have beaten top teams that include USC, Long Beach State, No. 13 California and UC Irvine.
Pacific will be coming to Matador Field for a three-game series starting Thursday and ending on Saturday due to Easter.
“There are the Fullertons and the Irvines, but we have to go into every game like we’re playing for a championship. We have to go in like we’re a 6-0 or an 0-6 team and not give up,” Bowen said.
Pacific is led by outfielders Matthew Carvutto and Allen Riley. Carvutto is first on the team in batting average (.362, which is second best in the conference), hits (46) and doubles (15). Riley is first on the team in RBIs with 24.
For all the misfortune the Matadors have, the team is doing little to change its approach and plan to remain true to its philosophy.
“I think we’re all thinking of sweeping Pacific and getting back on track,” said Marty Bowen, who is hitting .330, second on the team. “We don’t necessarily have a different approach as we would if we were undefeated or winless coming into the (Pacific) series, we’re just going to keep playing the same aggressive baseball.”