NORTHRIDGE – CSUN Baseball (26-29) wraps up the 2018 season this weekend at USC. The Matadors and Trojans open up a three-game series Thursday at 6 p.m. while game two is set for Friday at 6 p.m. and the season finale is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. All three games will be streamed live on Pac-12.com.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Thursday, May 24-Saturday, May 26
RHP Walker Armstrong (3-4, 3.66 ERA, 59 SO) vs. RHP Kyle Hurt (4-5, 5.11 ERA, 62 SO)
LHP Isaiah Nunez (1-2, 3.75 ERA, 44 SO) vs. LHP Quentin Longrie (4-6, 5.46 ERA, 45 SO)
RHP Matt Acosta (5-6, 4.43 ERA, 41 SO) vs. RHP Solomon Bates (5-3, 3.20 ERA, 72 SO)
The Matadors concluded Big West play last weekend at Cal State Fullerton. In a battle of the top two teams in the conference, the Matadors took the series opener 6-3 in 14 innings as Alvaro Rubalcaba brought home the winning run on a sacrifice fly. Tei Vanderford worked six innings out of the bullpen, allowing a run, to win his sixth game of the season. The Titans though would battle back with a 3-0 victory in game two and a 11-4 victory in the rubber game on Sunday.
CSUN finished Big West play at 13-11, clinching the program’s first winning record in conference play since 2013. The team enjoyed several highlights during conference play including posting the program’s most series wins (5) and road series wins (3) in 16 seasons. CSUN also started Big West conference play with two series wins for just the second time in team history.
Currently fourth in the conference standings, the Matadors have an opportunity to finish as high as second place after this weekend’s Big West games. UC Irvine and Cal Poly are 12-9 and sit in a second-place tie. Cal State Fullerton clinched the Big West title with a series win over the Matadors last weekend. CSUN has not finished higher than fourth in the conference since the 2002 season.
This weekend’s action represents the final series for the Matador senior class consisting of Albee Weiss, Justin Toerner, Nolan Bumstead, Kevin Riley, Alvaro Rubalcaba, Michael Russo, Alex Hull, Riley Conlan, Tei Vanderford, Andrew Weston, Hayden Shenefield and Quint Robinson.
Weiss enters his final series with career highs in home runs (18), RBI (57), runs (35) and batting (.284) while fellow outfielder Toerner is sporting career best numbers in batting (.292), triples (6), home runs (6) and RBI (30). Bumstead is also posting career highs this season in runs (27), home runs (6) and RBI (29) while Riley hit a new personal-best 15 doubles to go with eight home runs and 30 RBI. Moving over to shortstop this season, Rubalcaba has 33 runs, three home runs and 14 RBI for the Matadors. Off the bench, Russo is hitting .300 with four RBI while Hull is batting .271 with two home runs and five RBI. Used as a designated hitter, Conlan is hitting .308 with a career-best 21 runs and 17 RBI. On the pitching side, Vanderford is 6-2 with a 4.55 ERA and 43 strikeouts while Weston has a 3.26 ERA in 19.1 innings. In their only season with CSUN, Shenefield has 31 strikeouts in 30 innings to go with a 3.60 ERA while Robinson has worked 2.1 innings and struck out two batters.
The Matadors will send the trio of Walker Armstrong, Isaiah Nunez and Matt Acosta to the mound this weekend against the Trojans. Armstrong (3-4) has made 16 appearances this season, making 12 starts, as he is sporting a 3.66 ERA and 59 strikeouts over 86.0 innings. A southpaw, Nunez (1-2) has a 3.75 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 22 appearances including eight starts. In 17 appearances, Acosta (5-6) has collected a 4.43 ERA with 41 strikeouts.
USC leads the all-time series with CSUN 55-23-1. The teams have not faced one another since battling in a three-game series in 2013 where the Matadors took two of three games. This weekend’s series will be the first three-game set to take place at USC between the two teams. The squads had previously played series in a home and home format.
A Closer Look at USC
The Trojans are 25-26 this season and 12-18 in the Pac-12. USC holds a 14-13 record at Dedeaux Field after dropping a Tuesday contest to Cal State Fullerton (4-3). The team is coming off a series loss to No. 2 Oregon State last weekend but the Trojans blanked the Beavers 8-0 in the finale of the series.
In 89 at bats, sophomore catcher Kaleb Murphy leads the team with a .315 batting average with 14 runs and six RBI. Hitting near the .300 mark, junior Chase Bushor is batting .298 with 18 runs and 17 RBI while sophomore Blake Sabol is hitting .287 to go with 28 runs runs, 24 RBI and four home runs. The team’s top run distributor, junior Dillon Paulson has racked up 38 RBI, 32 runs, 13 doubles and eight home runs. Freshman right hander Kyle Hurt (4-5, 5.11 ERA) will make the start on Thursday against CSUN followed by junior left hander Quentin Longrie (4-6, 5.46 ERA) and junior right hander Solomon Bates (5-3, 3.20 ERA) in the season finale. Bates leads the Trojans with 72 strikeouts in 70.1 innings.