Baseball on two-game winning streak
A weekend removed from being buried in their worst stretch of the season, the Matadors finally have something to smile about, at least for the time being.
The CSUN baseball team (17-16, 0-3 Big West) has won the last two games by riding the arms of its pitching staff and just in time to take on the bulk of the Big West Conference.
With all but two non-conference games left on the schedule, the Matadors will travel north to San Luis Obispo, California, to take on Cal Poly on a three-game weekend series.
“I think it’s a huge series for us, I mean, it’s definitely a team we can beat and we just got to get our first conference win. I think that when we get it, we’ll get going from there. I definitely think that we can get out there and win the series and get the confidence going,” pitcher Josh Goossen-Brown said.
The Mustangs, which have experience their own hardships this season, come into the series with a sub-.500 record at 12-16 and an even conference record (3-3).
Infielder Mike Miller is having a breakout season, leading the team in batting average (.375), which is tops in the Big West. Junior outfielder Bobby Crocker is close behind hitting .330 and leads the team in runs (21) and hits (36).
As a collective unit, the Mustangs are hitting .255 through 28 games, which is last in conference, but are balanced by a strong pitching staff that has a 3.79 earned run average.
Despite being at or near the top in several offensive categories, CSUN’s struggles on the mound have masked its otherwise potent offense.
The pitching staff has accumulated a very high earned run average of 5.29, which has resulted in opponents hitting a whopping .302 batting average against the Matadors.
It’s a tale of two staffs as Northridge has displayed a dominating one in the recent two-game winning streak.
After getting ravaged for 28 runs in the first two games against Cal State Bakersfield, the Matadors held the Roadrunners to one run. Starter Goossen-Brown, recently named Big West Co-Pitcher of the Week, pitched 8.1 innings and gave up nine hits in the 2-1 victory.
“When I went out there pitching, I knew I had to get one for my team, we had to win,” Goossen-Brown said. “It was important knowing that we had conference coming up. It’s good we have some momentum coming into this weekend.”
Two days later the Matadors would win in walk-off manner, their first since February of last season, off a Tommy Simis double that scored two runs to win the game, 3-2.
The recent virtually flawless pitching has players like Simis thinking big, but he said the Cal Poly series is very crucial for conference success.
“The pitching has giving us a lot of confidence,” Simis said. “It’s about our pitching throwing strikes and having great command and giving us a chance to win games.”
Coach Matt Curtis put it into perspective when he said no game is more important than the next one, mentioning that each game is worth one.
“The bottom line, whether it’s the opening conference series or the final, each game is worth one win in the standings, but it’s an important time of the year, it’s good weekend for us to go on the road and grab a few games and hopefully get ourselves back in the hunt to for the conference,” Curtis said.
Curtis believes that good will come when the team is able to simultaneously gets its offense and defense on the same page in the same game.
“Hopefully this is the weekend when we get to put both sides of the ball together on the same night. If we do that, then I think we can do some good things,” he said.