NORTHRIDGE – CSUN Baseball (17-22) opens up a road-heavy stretch over the last five weeks of the regular season on Tuesday evening. For the second time this month, the Matadors will head to Fresno State to start a seven-game road trip. A video stream will be available on the Mountain West Network at 6:05 p.m.
The Matadors will be forced to play away from the friendly confines of Matador Field for much of the final weeks of the season. Out of the remaining 18 regular season games, 14 of those contests are on the road. In addition, the Matadors will also complete a suspended game with UCLA on the road when CSUN heads to Jackie Robinson Stadium on May 15. Following the Tuesday night matchup in Fresno, the Matadors make the trek to Hawai’i this weekend and visit UC Santa Barbara next week before returning back home on Tuesday, May 8 against Fresno State.
CSUN suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of UC Irvine but had its chances to win each game in the series. The Matadors, who have led each Big West game this season, dropped a 4-2 decision in the opener and a tough 5-4 game on Saturday despite taking a lead going to the top of the ninth. The Anteaters completed the sweep with an 8-4 win, breaking open a one-run game with a six-run eighth.
Senior Kevin Riley continued his hot start to Big West play with a 4-for-11 series against UC Irvine. In conference play, Riley is batting a team-best .370 with six runs scored, five home runs, 12 RBI and a robust .739 slugging percentage. On the pitching side, junior Matt Acosta tossed 5.2 innings, allowing two runs to go with four strikeouts in his start with the Anteaters. Fellow junior, Isaiah Nunez took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before exiting the game in the sixth with three runs allowed.
In the Big West, junior Trevor Casanova leads the conference in batting average (.370), hits (57) and doubles (15) while he is in the top five in runs scored (31), on-base percentage (.421) and slugging percentage (.545). Senior Albee Weiss continues to lead the the power categories in the Big West including home runs (15), RBI (46) and slugging percentage (.637). Nationally, Weiss is still ranked fourth in all of Division I baseball in home runs while he is 20th in RBI.
With a home run on Sunday, Weiss moved up to fourth place in the Matadors’ all-time career Top 10 list. Weiss is tied with Eric Gillespie on the list who played for CSUN from 1994 to 1996. Up next, Weiss could climb into third place on the Matadors’ career list, occupied by John Balfanz (1985-87), with five more blasts this season. Elsewhere in the CSUN record books, senior Justin Toerner is now tied for eighth all time with Marty Freidman (1972-73) with 93 career walks. Toerner is also second in school history in sacrifice flies (12) and fifth in triples (12).
Junior left hander Cayce Rocco will make his first career start for the Matadors on Tuesday against Fresno State. In 11 appearances this season, Rocco has logged 9.2 innings, stuck out 15 batters and posted a 6.52 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting just .237 against him on the year. Rocco’s longest outing in 2018 took place on March 2 at Grand Canyon as he gave up two runs over 2.0 innings.
Dating back to 1961, Fresno State holds a 56-28 all-time series edge over the Matadors. The teams have met only six times over the last 20 seasons, with five of those contests taking place in Fresno. Two weeks ago, the Matadors handed the Bulldogs a 15-2 defeat, pounding out 14 hits including eight extra base hits. Weiss collected a career-best four hits to go with two doubles while seniors Riley Conlan and Nolan Bumstead drove in three runs apiece in the win.
A Closer Look at Fresno State
The Bulldogs are 23-16 this season and 9-12 in the Mountain West Conference. Fresno State dropped four of the last six games and suffered a series loss at San Diego State last weekend. The Bulldogs have won four of seven games against Big West teams this season. As a team, the Bulldogs are hitting .294 with 36 home runs.
In 57 at bats, senior Torin Goldstein is batting .439 with 15 RBI to go with a .561 slugging percentage. Fourth in the Mountain West in batting, junior Zach Ashford is hitting .362 at the plate and has 23 runs, 18 RBI and 12 doubles. Six Bulldogs have collected three or more home runs led by sophomore Carter Bins who has seven homers, 34 RBI and a .309 average. Freshman left hander Nikoh Mitchell (3-2) will take the mound against CSUN as he comes in with a 4.15 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 34.2 innings.