NORTHRIDGE – CSUN Baseball (17-19, 5-4 BWC) resume Big West play this weekend with a three-game series against UC Irvine at Matador Field. The opener is set for 3 p.m. on Friday, and the series will continue on Saturday at 1 p.m. and conclude on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Audio broadcasts will be available on the CSUN Sports Network presented by Dignity Health for each game of the series with Ross Porter on the call.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday, April 20-Sunday, April 22
RHP Andre Pallante (5-0, 1.17 ERA, 73 SO) vs. RHP Walker Armstrong (1-2, 3.61 ERA, 38 SO)
RHP Taylor Rashi (3-3, 2.50 ERA, 33 SO) vs. LHP Isaiah Nunez (1-0, 3.00 ERA, 31 SO)
RHP Trenton Denholm (3-4, 4.83 ERA, 33 SO) vs. TBD
The Matadors and Anteaters come in tied at 5-4 and just one game out of first place in the Big West standings. Hawai’i sits atop the conference with a 6-3 mark while Cal State Fullerton (4-2) is tied with the Rainbow Warriors in winning percentage (.667). The Matadors are above the .500 mark through nine games of the Big West season for the first time since 2013.
CSUN dropped a tough 3-2 decision at San Diego State on Tuesday in a non-conference contest. The Matadors broke a scoreless tie with a two-run sixth inning behind sacrifice flies from seniors Justin Toerner and Nolan Bumstead. However, the Aztecs fought back with three runs in the seventh including scoring two unearned runs to take the lead. San Diego State would hold on over the last two innings to hand the Matadors’ their first loss on a Tuesday this season.
Junior Trevor Casanova collected his 17th multiple-hit game of the season against the Aztecs as he finished with two of the Matadors’ three hits. Senior right hander Andrew Weston tossed a season-high 4.2 shutout innings, striking out four batters while Junior Jayson Newman and senior Tei Vanderford each worked 1.1 shutout innings.
Among the leaders in the nation, senior Albee Weiss has the third-most home runs (14) in all of Division I baseball. With five triples, Toerner is 10th in the nation in the category while junior Joey Cooper is eighth in hit by pitch (15) and Casanova is 17th in doubles (15).
In the Big West, Casanova is first in the conference in hits (54) and doubles, and is tied with Cooper for the most runs scored with 30 while he is second in batting average with a .378 clip. Also atop the conference, Weiss is the league leader in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage (.648). Along with Weiss, five other Matadors are in the Big West Top 10 in home runs, which also includes Cooper and Kevin Riley with five home runs apiece (fourth place), and Bumstead and Casanova with four home runs apiece (eighth place). The Matadors lead the Big West in runs (241), hits (359), RBI (228), extra base hits (128), total bases (597), home runs (50) and slugging percentage (.473).
Making his sixth-straight Friday start, junior right hander Walker Armstrong (1-2) has collected a 3.61 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. In seven starts, Armstrong has amassed a 3.46 ERA in 39.0 innings of work to go with 27 strikeouts. Starting Saturday, junior left-handed pitcher Isaiah Nunez has been effective as a starter and reliever in his first year with the team. Nunez (1-0) has posted a 3.00 ERA in 17 appearances over 36.0 innings but since moving into the starting rotation, he has registered a 2.45 ERA in 14.2 innings with eight strikeouts.
Dating back to 1971, UC Irvine leads the all-time series with CSUN 42-30. The Matadors had lost four-straight series to the Anteaters but snapped that string with a series win at UCI last season. Bumstead went 5-for-13 (.385) against the Anteaters last season with three RBI while Toerner batted .364 (4-for-11) with two runs scored and an RBI. The teams have not played at Matador Field since 2015 as four of the last five series have taken place at Anteater Ballpark.
A Closer Look at UC Irvine
After winning 23 games last season, the Anteaters have nearly eclipsed that win total with over a month still left in the regular season. UCI is 21-14 on the year including 10-7 away from Anteater Ballpark. The Anteaters have won five of the last six games, and are coming off a series win over UC Santa Barbara last weekend and a victory at No. 13 UCLA (8-1) on Tuesday.
Graduate student Nick Anderson leads the team with a .341 batting average with 20 RBI and a .424 slugging percentage. The team’s top run producer, senior Ryan Fitzpatrick is hitting .336 and slugging .622 to go with 34 RBI, 29 runs and seven home runs. Starting Friday, sophomore right hander Andre Pallante (5-0) is the Big West leader in strikeouts (73) and ERA (1.17) as opposing hitters are batting just .195. Junior right hander Taylor Rashi (3-3, 2.40 ERA) and freshman right hander Trenton Denholm (3-4, 4.83 ERA) round out the team’s weekend rotation.