NORTHRIDGE – CSUN Baseball kicks off its 60th season on Friday afternoon as the Matadors open up a four-game weekend series against BYU at Matador Field.
First pitch for the season opener on Friday is set for 2 p.m., and the series will continue on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 10:30 a.m. The teams will wrap up the series on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. A live video stream will be available for the Friday and Monday games on the CSUN Sports Network presented by Dignity Health with Ross Porter on the call. Audio only broadcasts will also be available for every game in the series with Porter calling all the action from Matador Field. Fans can find audio and video links to each game this season on the baseball schedule page at GoMatadors.com.
Probable Pitching Match-Ups
Friday, Feb. 16 – Saturday, Feb. 17 (Doubleheader) & Monday, Feb. 19
RHP Jordan Wood (5-0, 5.14 ERA) vs. RHP Tei Vanderford (5-4, 3.77 ERA)
RHP Ryan Brady (N/A) vs. LHP Wesley Moore (N/A)
LHP Hayden Rogers (9-2, 3.63 ERA) vs. RHP Theron Kay (0-0, 5.40 ERA – w/ Baylor in 2016)
LHP Kenny Saenz (0-0, 5.00 ERA, w/ Oklahoma in 2016) vs. RHP Hayden Shenefield (N/A)
The Matadors head into the 2018 season with a mix of familiar faces and newcomers. CSUN returns 13 letterwinners this season including seven position players that started at least 30 games last season along with two weekend starters. Joining the veteran group, the Matadors feature 19 newcomers including 12 upperclassmen and two senior transfers. In September, the 2017-18 recruiting class was ranked in the Top 40 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Among the new additions to the roster, nine pitchers join the Matadors this season along with two pitchers that redshirted last season. Freshman left-handed pitcher Wesley Moore and right-handed junior transfer Theron Kay will make the their Matador debuts on Saturday against BYU in the doubleheader while right-handed senior transfer Hayden Shenefield takes the hill on Monday afternoon. Originally from Surrey, British Columbia, Moore comes to the Matadors with international experience playing for Team Canada’s U-18 Junior National Team. Kay played two seasons at Baylor University from 2015 to 2016 before redshirting last season with the Matadors and Shenefield spent the 2017 campaign at Grossmont College where he helped the school win its first state championship.
Last season’s Friday starter, senior right hander Tei Vanderford returns to the team after leading the Matadors in innings pitched with 98.0. Vanderford went 5-4 last season with a 3.77 ERA and 69 strikeouts. He will make the opening day start for the Matadors on Friday. Senior right hander Andrew Weston and redshirt freshman Blake Schriever along with two-way left hander Justin Toerner round out the only Matador returning pitchers.
“Our pitching staff has depth,” said head coach Greg Moore. Tei is back as a Friday starter. I thought [Kay] could have been a weekend starter for us last year. Our incoming class of JC pitchers is more ready to contribute than typical first year players. When everyone settles in to and learns the best way to execute their role, this could be a staff of college winners.”
While the Matadors have a variety of new arms, CSUN returns most of its everyday batting order from a year ago. An All-Big West Second Team selection, senior slugger Albee Weiss finished second in the conference in RBI (45) and third in home runs (11) last season. Making the move from second base to shortstop, senior Alvaro Rubalcaba also earned an All-Big West Second Team nod in 2017 as he led the team in runs scored (41), walks (32), stolen bases (16) and on-base percentage (.425). Another senior, third baseman Nolan Bumstead was named a Big West Honorable Mention a year ago after leading the team in batting (.302) and finished fifth in RBI (25) to go along with a four home runs and 25 runs scored.
Patrolling center field, Toerner hit a career-high .288 last season and picked up 57 hits and 33 runs scored. Senior first baseman Kevin Riley battled through injuries in 2017 to hit .291 with eight home runs, 32 RBI and a .567 slugging percentage.
Joining the Matadors this season, junior catcher Trevor Casanova batted .390 with eight home runs and 40 RBI with El Camino College in 2017 as he earned a host of awards including Pacific Association Division National Player of the Year. At second base, freshman Brandon Bohning prepped at Chatsworth High School and helped his team advance to the CIF City Section Championship game twice. An ABCA/Rawlings Pacific Association All-American at Palomar College, junior outfielder Joey Cooper also expects to see significant time for the Matadors in 2018.
“Last year’s recruiting class, the group of freshman that started this fall, was nationally recognized,” said Moore. “To say that our coaches are excited about the young players in the program is an understatement. Every freshman on our roster has a chance to be an impact player before their career is done at CSUN. With this being an older lineup, they’re going to have to have a chance to work in spots. I’ve already seen unique growth from our freshman. They are spending time with seniors learning how to manage their time off the field and play the game hard and well on the field.”
In a series dating back to 1966, the Matadors are 7-6-1 against BYU all time. The teams last squared off at Matador Field in 2015 with CSUN posting a 10-8 victory in a midweek game. The teams have played a three-game series once, taking place at BYU in 1996, but have never played a four-game series. CSUN last hosted BYU in at least two consecutive games at home in 2004 with the teams splitting the series. The Matadors are 35-22-2 all time in season openers.
A Closer Look at BYU
The Cougars finished 38-21 last season, advancing to the NCAA Regionals in Stanford where they went 1-2. BYU was picked to finish first and to repeat as West Coast Conference champions this season.
In 2017, BYU hit .319 while collecting 75 home runs. A preseason All-American, senior second baseman Brennon Anderson hit .346 last season with 71 runs, 23 doubles, six home runs and 40 RBI. Junior outfielder Brock Hale collected a .395 average at the plate in 2017 to go with 12 home runs, 48 RBI and a .672 slugging percentage. Junior right hander Jordan Wood gets the starting nod in the opener after posting a 5-0 record with a 5.14 ERA last season. Senior left hander Hayden Rogers, who will start Saturday, went 9-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 2017.