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Matadors Host Hawai’i in Final Home Series

09 Dec 2021 | 06:57 | Baseball

NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—CSUN Baseball (16-16, 16-16 Big West) returns to Matador Field this weekend for its final home series of the season. The Matadors host Hawai’i (23-15, 15-13 Big West) in the first of a four-game series on Friday at 3 p.m. The teams play a Saturday doubleheader at 11 a.m. and conclude the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Saturday’s doubleheader will stream live on BigWest.TV while audio streams will be available at GoMatadors.com/Radio for all four games.

Limited spectators will be allowed into the Matadors’ remaining home games this spring. Due to reduced capacity at CSUN venues, only family members of current Matador student-athletes will be allowed to attend the remaining games in person. Capacity will be prioritized by student-athlete graduation class and family members must register to attend games. Visitors must present a California ID when checking in at Matador Field and adhere to physical distancing guidelines along with wearing face coverings.

Before Saturday’s doubleheader, Matador fans can tune in to watch a virtual pre-game show starting at 10:15 a.m. on BigWest.TV. Fans have the opportunity to meet some of the student-athletes on the team, guess Matador trivia, receive a live look at Matador Field and catch up with a baseball alum.

Sunday’s home finale represents the final games at Matador Field for the CSUN senior class. Before first pitch, the Matadors will honor their seniors in a special pre-game ceremony. Fans can watch the ceremony on the @CSUNBaseball Instagram page starting at 12:30 p.m.

Probable Pitching Matchups
Hawai’i at CSUN – May 14-16
RHP Aaron Davenport (3-3, 2.87 ERA) vs. RHP Blake Sodersten (2-1, 4.62 ERA)
RHP Cade Halemanu (5-1, 3.31 ERA) vs. RHP Gavin Lizik (0-2, 8.36 ERA)
LHP Austin Teixeira (3-0, 2.78 ERA) vs. RHP Jeremy Hassel (2-0, 4.05 ERA)
RHP Logan Poelsen (4-1, 3.98 ERA) vs. RHP Blaine Traxel (5-1, 3.84 ERA)

The Matadors are coming off their second consecutive series victory last weekend at UC Davis. CSUN took the opener 10-6 last Friday and won game one of Saturday’s doubleheader 11-5. UC Davis would come from behind to win the nightcap of the twin bill 13-9 before the Matadors secured a series win with an 8-3 triumph on Sunday.

In the opening game of the series, the Matadors scored nine runs over the first four innings to lead 9-2. The Aggies chipped away at the lead, cutting it down to three in the eighth but CSUN scored a run in the ninth and held on the rest of the way. Jose Ruiz and Denzel Clarke drove in three runs apiece while Sean Skelly had three hits. Kyle Hoskins worked three innings out of the bullpen and secured the win.

CSUN would have to rally to win game two of the series. The Aggies led 5-3 after six innings before the Matadors scored eight over the last three innings. Leading the Matadors’ 15-hit parade, Clarke, Kai Moody and Jayson Newman each had three hits in the game while Chad Wilson picked up the win after tossing 1.2 innings in relief.

The Aggies rallied from a 9-8 deficit in the eighth to split the doubleheader but the Matadors received another quality effort from Blaine Traxel on the mound to take the series. Traxel allowed two unearned runs over seven innings to earn his team-leading fifth win of the season. Moody and Newman each tallied three more hits apiece and the tandem of Clarke and Robert Bullard homered. Bullard’s long ball would be of the inside-the-park variety.

The Matadors scored a season-high 38 runs in the UC Davis series on 56 hits. CSUN posted 15 hits in each of the final three games of the series. As a team, the Matadors lead the Big West in batting average (.297), on-base percentage (.392) and slugging percentage (.441).

Clarke’s performance against the Aggies continues a hot stretch of hitting over the last 18 games. The junior has reached base in 18 consecutive games and over that span has batted .500 (31-for-62) with 16 runs, 19 RBI and six home runs. He has also hit safely in 14-straight games. Over the past 18 games, Clarke has raised his batting average from .192 to a .360 clip, which ranks seventh-best in the Big West. Clarke is also first in the league in on-base percentage (.482) and slugging (.640), third in home runs (8) and fourth in stolen bases (12).

Moody is now first in the Big West in batting average at .394 while he is ninth in hits (50). The only Matador to play in all 32 games, Moody has reached base in 31 games and hit safely in 29 contests. He has also registered a team-best 14 multiple-hit games. Flirting with a .400 average season, Moody is attempting to become the first Matador to hit .400 or above for a full season since Robert Smith and J.T. Stotts batted .409 in 2001.

Heading into the weekend, Traxel is first in the Big West in complete games (3), fifth in wins, sixth in appearances (16) and seventh in innings pitched (68.0). He has pitched seven or more innings in seven-straight starts.

The Matadors lead Hawai’i in the all-time series 34-20 and have won the last two series. In 2019, CSUN dropped the series opener to Hawai’i before winning the final two games in the series at Matador Field. Overall, the Matadors have won four of the last five meetings. Skelly hit .400 (4-for-10) in the Hawai’i series in 2019, which was highlighted by a pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh inning from Blake Doremus in the rubber game.

A Closer Look at Hawai’i
The Rainbow Warriors are fifth in the Big West standings with a league record of 15-13. Hawai’i is coming off back-to-back series wins, first over UC Davis (four-game sweep) and at Cal State Fullerton (three of four games) last weekend. The team also has a road series win in league play at UC Riverside this season. Head coach Mike Trapasso is in his 20th season leading the Hawai’i program.

Kole Kaler leads the team in batting (.342) and stolen bases (11) while Dustin Demeter is tops on the team in RBI (29) to go with a .370 average in 22 games. Kaler is sixth in the Big West in hits (55) and eighth in runs (34). Also hitting above .300, Adam Fogel is batting .314 with 24 RBI while Scotty Scott is hitting .310 with 36 runs. As a team, the Hawai’i pitching staff leads the nation in walks per nine innings (2.17) and is sixth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.49). Adam Davenport is fourth in the Big West in strikeouts (78) and fifth in ERA (2.87).