The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Baseball: Matadors on a three-game winning streak after Muren’s grand slam

CLEAN SHEET: Shawn Wilyman (29) threw 1.1 innings of relief, giving up no runs, one hit and struck out one on Tuesday against San Diego State. Photo Credit: Tessie Navarro / Staff Photographer

The first three-game winning streak of the season looks great, especially after looming around .500 for the first nine games of the year.

Back-to-back road wins over the weekend and a victory over the San Diego State Aztecs, 12-9, at Matador Field suddenly have the Matadors as winners of five of their last seven games.

The Cal State Northridge baseball team’s (8-5, 0-0 Big West) biggest problem from the start has been plate discipline, which has amounted to high strikeout rates from opponents.

“At the beginning of the season, we kind of struggled with strikeouts, I mean, we had like seven, eight, nine, I think 10 strikeouts in one game,” outfielder Drew Muren said. “Coach (Matt Curtis) has been preaching to us two-strike approaches and stuff like that and yesterday I know a lot of us had quite a few strikeouts.”

Muren is referring to the last three games, which the Matadors have been struck out by an average of 8.3 strikeouts a game and that included season-high nine strikeouts against San Diego State.

Northridge faced the Aztecs (2-10) in a lone game Tuesday that saw four lead changes and an abundance of runs on several hits.

No hit was bigger than Muren’s shot in the bottom of the seventh inning.

With CSUN down 8-4 after San Diego State scored in the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings, Muren came up after infielder TS Reed and outfielder Ridge Carpenter walked to load the bases.

With the Aztecs leading 8-6 with two outs, Muren smashed the ball over the right field wall for a grand slam, his first home run of the season, to put the Matadors up for good, 10-8.

CSUN infielder Christian Allen added a two-run bomb in the eighth inning to put the game away. Pitcher Joshua Goossen-Brown earned the win, his first, and senior Ryan Juarez pitched two innings of one-hit baseball to get the save.

“We had some guys on base, we scored some runs, we had a big at-bat on a sacrifice fly, and their pitcher walked two guys and I guess I got lucky, got up it in the wind and it went out,” said Muren, who went 3-for-5 with five RBIs against the Aztecs.

Traveling to Northridge this weekend is Lafayette College (2-5, 0-0 Patriot League), which is coming off an 8-7 defeat at the hands of the Rider Broncs on Wednesday. Rider scored eight runs on four hits, capitalizing on three Leopard errors.

This is the first meeting between CSUN and Lafayette. Friday and Sunday’s games will be played at Matador Field and a double-header Saturday will be played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California.

Leading the Leopards is senior catcher A.J. Miller, who is hitting .444 with 12 hits and 12 RBIs. Sophomore infielder Scott Kelleher comes behind Miller with a .423 batting average and 11 hits.

Last week, coach Matt Curtis said the team has to find a way to win tight games.

CSUN’s Juarez (2-2), who lost against New Mexico State on Thursday and beat San Francisco on Saturday, both tight games, acknowledges games that go to the wire need to be won, but was disappointed that he gave one away.

“I didn’t do my job on Thursday and that left a bitter taste in my mouth. It just so happened I had the exact same opportunity (on Saturday) and I came through on the other end,” Juarez said.

Even with the three-game winning streak, the Matadors have allowed an average 5.6 runs in those games. Juarez is optimistic the pitching staff will turn it around.

“I think we’ve been falling behind on guys a little bit as a staff and you know that’s our job, to get ahead of hitters and put the pressure on them as opposed to us,” Juarez said. “I think you’re going to see a better job of us getting ahead of guys and getting that lead runner out and that’s our job.”

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