Finally starting to play better as of late, the CSUN baseball team will now prepare to face the Loyola Marymount Lions at 3p.m. today at Matador Field.
So far in May, CSUN has been able to snap its 14-game Big West Conference losing streak by beating UC Irvine, and scoring a season-high 19 runs in a victory over UC Riverside to extend its new conference streak.
The Matadors also had two games scheduled over the weekend against NAIA school Point Loma Nazarene and the cross-town USC Trojans, to see if they could improve upon their 16-25-1 record.
Loyola enters the contest with a 22-24 overall record, including four consecutive wins. The Lions, who play in the West Coast Conference, come off a three-game sweep of Saint Mary’s College to improve their conference record to 12-11.
The Lions have faced the same problems this year as CSUN. They have fabulous bats, but their pitching has let them down more than once.
Senior outfielder Joe Frazee leads the team with a .365 batting average. Junior outfielder Chris Pettit is second on the team with a .352 batting average, is tied for the team lead with eight homers and leads the team with 39 RBI.
Junior outfielder James Cooper is hitting .346, and senior Matt White is at .329 in limited action. Senior Jon Oller has eight homers and junior third baseman Kyle Mura has five. The Lions have hit 30 homers as a team, compared with 21 for CSUN.
The Lions have used many different pitchers this season. Junior’s Jeff Stevens (4-7, 4.46 ERA) and Stephen Kahn (3-5, 5.70 ERA) are the two primary starters.
Senior Gabe Bueno has the teams lowest ERA at 3.95 to go along with a 2-0 record. The team’s ERA is a sky-high 5.91. CSUN’s team ERA is no better at 6.21.
Entering the games against Point Loma and SC, Joe Rocchio, Jimmy Brettl and Craig Baker had pitched the majority of the innings for CSUN and had combined to go 8-17 with only one of the three having an ERA lower than five.
At the plate, Michael Paulk has done the most damage. The junior first baseman leads the team with a .327 batting average, nine homeruns and 32 RBI. Junior infielder Erik Hagstrom is second on the team with a .322 batting average while senior outfielder John Voita’s five homers are the second most on the team.
CSUN is batting .276 as a team, while the Lions are at .290. The Lions have played in five more games than the Matadors and have scored 70 more runs. To match that output, CSUN would have to average 14 runs a game over the next five.
In addition, CSUN has also committed 88 errors, compared to 74 for the Lions. After this game, CSUN will remain home to take on conference rival Pacific, to see if they can extend their conference winning streak, beginning Friday afternoon.