Matadors get new crack at road win No. 1

David Denenberg

The make-or-break moment has arrived for the CSUN baseball team as the Matadors hit the road to play a three-game series against Long Beach State (15-17, 2-4 Big West) this weekend.

If the Matadors (15-20, 3-6) can get a sweep on the road, they can even up their conference record. That’s easier said than done as CSUN has yet to win a single away game this season. If the trend continues and Northridge drops all three games, the Matadors will be 3-9, all but eliminating themselves from championship contention.

Hence, this is the biggest series of the season for CSUN as they face an LBSU team that’s in a similar situation, with a losing conference record.

The pitching for the Matadors hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s likely that sophomore Ryan Juarez (4-2) will make a start either Friday or Saturday. Juarez has been a bright spot in a CSUN pitching rotation that has struggled this year.

Coming into the series, the Matador bats have been doing well as outfielder Richard Cates has a .375 hitting average with 54 hits and 19 RBIs.’ Cates will need to bring his best game and also provide leadership to his fellow teammates.

While Cates provides valuable guidance, some of the younger Matadors ‘- such as sophomore first baseman Dominic D’Anna ‘- will also need to perform well against the Dirtbags. D’Anna is currently batting .324 with a team-leading 32 RBIs.

For the Dirtbags, they will need shortstop Devin Lohman to continue his strong presence at the plate. Lohman has knocked in 23 RBIs and dropped down 37 hits this season.

Looking to have a strong outing on the mound for Long Beach State is Adam Wilks (4-1), who has a 3.02 ERA in his 50 innings of work this season.

The first game of the series is on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Blair Field.’ For game updates and more, check out our blog ‘The Matador Score.’

Matadors (15-20, 3-6 Big West) vs. Long Beach State (15-17, 2-4)

Game 1: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Place: Blair Field, Long Beach
Series: CSUN leads 58-56

Last meeting: April 20, 2008, LBSU 4 @ CSUN 1
Interesting fact:‘ All sports teams at Long Beach State, except for the baseball one, are known as the 49ers. The baseball team’s nickname is the Dirtbags.

Matador to watch:
Dominic D’Anna, sophomore, first baseman

D’Anna has had great success at the plate this season.’ He’s not only jacked an impressive seven homeruns, but also leads the team with 32 RBIs.’ In the series against Cal State Fullerton, D’Anna recorded a grand slam that was not only the first of his collegiate career, but also put the Matadors back into a game they were losing. D’Anna’s power is an ‘X’ factor. He can create offense at any point in the game.

Dirtbag to watch:
TJ Mittelstaedt, junior, outfielder

The Dirtbags have seen a lot of production this season from Mittelstaedt, who is batting .313 with a team-leading 28 RBIs. Having stolen five bases this season, Mittelstaedt poses a threat when on base. He’s had 35 hits in 2009 so it’s likely he will get on base a few times this series. Mittelstaedt leads the Dirtbags in triples with three and homeruns with four.’ In order for the Dirtbags to have success this weekend, Mittelstaedt will need to exploit a Matadors’ pitching staff that has blown every road game this season.

That’s what he said

John Parham, senior, catcher
On what’s needed to come out with this season’s first road win:

‘If we can take our game to Long Beach State one through nine, we’ll have our best shot to really take it to them this weekend.’