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Matadors Open Up Road Stretch at CSU Bakersfield

09 Dec 2021 | 06:48 | Baseball

NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—CSUN Baseball (9-15, 9-15 Big West) kicks off an eight-game road stretch at CSU Bakersfield (14-9, 11-5 Big West) this weekend. The first of a four-game series starts on Friday at 3 p.m. and continues with a Saturday doubleheader beginning at noon. The teams wrap up the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Each game will stream on ESPN3.

Probable Pitching Matchups
CSUN at CSU Bakersfield
RHP Blake Sodersten (1-1, 3.89 ERA) vs. RHP Ethan Skuija (1-2, 7.13 ERA)
RHP Gavin Lizik (0-2, 9.00 ERA) vs. RHP Aaron Charles (2-0, 2.00 ERA)
RHP Jeremy Hassel (1-0, 2.60 ERA) vs. LHP Art Joven (2-2, 5.84 ERA)
RHP Blaine Traxel (3-1, 5.26 ERA) vs. RHP Roman Angelo (2-0, 3.41 ERA)

The Matadors are coming off a hard-fought four-game series with Cal State Fullerton last weekend at Matador Field. CSUN took the opener on Friday behind 14 hits and a complete-game effort from Blake Sodersten in an 11-1 win in eight innings. A day later, the Titans evened the series with a 6-4 win 10 innings in game one of a doubleheader but the Matadors returned the favor with a 10-2 win in game two. Cal State Fullerton would win a wild series finale on Sunday 6-5 in 10 innings.

Sodersten took a one-hitter into the eighth inning against the Titans in an outstanding performance on Friday. He sat down 16 of 17 batters at one point and did not allow a runner to reach scoring position until the seventh inning. Led by three-hit efforts from Kai Moody and Jose Ruiz, the Matadors scored in six of eight innings including three times in the bottom of the eighth to activate the run-rule win.

In Saturday’s doubleheader, the Matadors held a 3-2 lead heading to the sixth of game one before the Titans evened the game an inning later. Fullerton pushed across three runs in the 10th and barely held off a CSUN rally in the bottom of the 10th as the Matadors brought the tying run to the plate. CSUN pounded out 11 hits in game two of the twin bill with Brandon Bohning driving in three runs in the eight-run win. The Matadors received a lift from their two starters in the doubleheader with Gavin Lizik going five innings with a run allowed on four hits while Jeremy Hassel earned his first career victory with five innings of work and one run surrendered on five hits.

In a back-and-forth series finale, the Matadors took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh only to see the Titans score four runs against Blaine Traxel in the eighth inning. Down 5-2, the Matadors scored a run in the eighth and two more in the ninth, capped by a game-tying RBI single from Jayson Newman. The Titans once again went ahead in the 10th inning 6-5 and would strand two CSUN runners on base to end the game in the bottom of the 10th. Traxel picked up a no-decision after going eight innings, allowing five runs but only three of those runs were earned. Newman’s RBI in game four capped a series where he drove in seven runs

After posting seven hits in the Fullerton series, Moody is back atop the Big West in batting average (.389). Moody has a hit in 22 of 24 games this season and reached base in 23 games. In addition, Moody has a team-high 10 multiple-hit games this season to go with 19 runs and 15 RBI. Behind Moody, Jose Ruiz is batting .338 and has the second-most hits (27) and RBI (14) on the team. After seeing his average dip under .200, Denzel Clarke is hitting .294 following an eight-game stretch where he hit .483 (14-for-29). On the season, Clarke is first on the team in runs scored (20) and home runs (4).

Sodersten earned his first career Big West Pitcher of the Week honor on Apr. 26. His complete game was the first of his career and the third by a Matador this season. Sodersten is the first Matador to pick up the weekly award since Isaiah Nunez won it on May 27, 2019. On the season, Sodersten has a 1-1 record with a 3.89 ERA and 34 strikeouts.

CSUN holds a 14-12 edge over CSU Bakersfield in the all-time series. The teams are facing off in Big West play for the first-ever time this weekend. CSUN last faced CSUB in 2018 when it won 13-7 at Matador Field, capping a season series sweep. The Matadors have won three-straight meetings and four of the last five games on the road. The teams have played in a series of three or more games a total of three times with Bakersfield winning all of those series (2010, 2011 and 2016). All three of those sets were home-and-home series.

A Closer Look at CSU Bakersfield
CSUB holds an 11-5 record in league play and heads into the weekend three games back of first place in the Big West. Winners of eight of the last 10 games, Bakersfield won three of four games at UC San Diego last weekend. The Roadrunners have won three conference series this season and split their other series against UC Davis. Before the season, CSUB was picked to finish last in the Big West. Head coach Jeremy Beard is in his fifth season leading the program.

Evan Berkey is second in the Big West in batting (.389) while he has three home runs and 12 RBI. Behind Berkey, Tyler Jorgensen is fourth in the league with a .387 average to go with a team-high 21 RBI. Jacen Roberson has a team-best four home runs with 20 RBI and a .289 average at the plate. On the pitching side, Roman Angelo has logged a team-high 31.2 innings and posted a 2-0 record, 3.41 ERA and 27 strikeouts. Ethan Skuija has struck out a team-best 34 batters over six appearances to go with a 7.13 ERA.