By losing eight of their last 10 games, the usual break in the spring could be marked as an unwelcoming one for the Matadors.
The CSUN baseball team is 32 games into the 2011 season, roughly halfway in, and they sport a .500 record at 16-16 and a winless 0-3 Big West mark through the first weekend of conference play.
CSUN head coach Matt Curtis said the results are what they are and one cannot argue with the final scores, but he maintains the team could be playing at a higher level.
“Well we are what we are and the record is what it is. Do I think we could be performing better? Sure. I certainly don’t think we’re overachieving,” Curtis said. “Are we a .500 team going forward the rest of the year? I don’t know, we’ll see.”
The problem CSUN faces now is a pitching staff that has sunk to the lower third of the Big West.
The Matador pitchers have an earned run average of 5.43, second to last in the conference, just above the Pacific Tigers, who own the worst record in the league.
“I think we got to get our focus on the mound, back to throwing strikes and pitching to contact. We’re getting behind in counts and getting into hitter’s counts and guys are taking advantage of that by putting runs on the board,” Curtis said. “We got to get the right guys in place and we got to get them back on a plan, get them refocused and take it from there.”
Senior pitcher Ryan Juarez said the team was able to make mistakes in the past with little consequence but realizes that it is time to clean it up because mistakes are amplified in conference play.
“We’ve been having a tough time throwing strikes. It basically comes down to just attacking the zone, getting after some hitters and I think we’ve been a little timid in some situations and it’s cost us pretty big,” Juarez said.
After this Sunday’s game there might be light at the end of the tunnel for the Matadors pitching.
Having been pummeled 15-5 and 13-3 in the first two games of the series, Northridge put together one of its most impressive pitching performances of the season by defeating CSU Bakersfield, 2-1, at Hardt Field
CSUN’s Josh Goossen-Brown, who was recently added to the starting rotation, pitched 8.1 innings and limited the Roadrunners to one run and eight hits for his fourth win of the season.
Northridge opened the score first on a leadoff home run by outfielder Ridge Carpenter and would score again in the third on an RBI single by Adam Barry to make the score 2-0.
CSUB finally scored in the seventh as infielder D.C. Legg singled for an RBI to cut the lead in half. The Roadrunners threatened again in the bottom of the ninth inning as they had the tying run round third base, but CSUN right fielder Nate Ring threw out the runner at home.
A sense of urgency is felt in the clubhouse, as the bulk of Big West play is right around the corner.
“We know the Big West is really important,” said infielder Tommy Simis. “We need to play perfect, we need to be aggressive at the plate, be aggressive with pitching and just limit the mistakes in defense and I think we’ll be okay in the long run.”