CSUN hosts Highlanders

David Denenberg

The CSUN baseball team (17-22, 4-8 Big West) will resume conference play this weekend as they host UC Riverside (21-13, 2-7).

This series is crucial for the Matadors, who find themselves at 4-8 in the Big West and need to string together some wins in order to finish high in the final rankings and have a chance at going to the NCAA tournament in Nebraska.

Matadors senior first baseman Richard Cates, who’s leading the team with 62 hits and a batting average of .390, has proved to be the leader of this squad that has had difficulty winning the big games.

‘We need to keep our offense going the way it was (on Tuesday on a 9-8 win against Pepperdine) and throw strikes,’ Cates said.’ ‘Our pitchers are good when they throw strikes and get ahead of guys.”

On a positive note for the Matadors, starting pitchers Paul Tremlin (5-1) and Ryan Juarez (4-3) have been solid lately, giving the Matadors the opportunity to stay in games without putting up gaudy statistics behind the plate.

On the other hand, some of the other pitchers are a bit shaky, such as middle relief players Ryan ‘China’ McCarney (1-3) and Jimmy Jolicoeur (2-3).’ Both players have given up leads in the last couple games and will need to make some adjustments to pitch more effectively in this home series.

As far as the batting lineup is concerned, the Matadors will need freshman second baseman Tommy Simis to step up and make meaningful offensive contributions.’ Simis is batting .242.

On the other side, the Highlanders will be looking to outfielder Carl Uhl, who leads the team with 48 hits and 35 runs, to get the offense going against CSUN.

The biggest threat UC Riverside has on the mound is Paul Applebee (5-2), who’s struck out 40 batters and has a 4.70 ERA.

The first game is on Friday at 3 p.m. at Matador Field.’ For live updates follow the action on our blog ‘The Matador Score.’