He wears a double zero on his back. With his glasses and his tall, skinny frame, he bears a slight resemblance to Kent Tekulve.
His name is Brian Holmes and he is one reason why Cal State Northridge won't sweep Cal State Los Angeles this week.
Holmes pitched a gutsy eight innings to lead the Golden Eagles to a 7-6 victory Friday over the Matadors at James Reeded Field. He left after Bryant Long led off the ninth with the Matadors' 10th hit--a line drive through the box--and was replaced by Rick Estrada of Van Nuys, who returned after Tuesday's 6-innings starting assignment to earn his first save.
"I was tiring about the fifth inning," said Holmes (2-2), a senior right-hander from Sylmar.
"I was running on fumes the last four innings, but the location on my pitches are what kept me in the game. My fastball wasn't there, so I hit a corner here, a corner there, to get by."
Whatever it was, it was enough to overturn a 20-7 Cal State L.A. defeat to CSUN on Wednesday.
In Holmes' senior year at North Hollywood High, he pitched only 15 innings. He had a lot of problems the next year at Mission College in San Fernando.
But Coach Rick Remkus took him aside and worked on his mental approach to pitching. He worked hard during the summer of 1983 and was set to go last season. But he developed tendinitis in his shoulder early in the year and struggled to a 4-7 record.
In his first start this season, he ran late to cover first base on a ground ball hit to the right of the mound and first baseman Darryl Williams threw the ball behind him. The 6-5, 195-pound pitcher got his legs tangled reaching back for the ball and put all of his weight on his left foot.
He broke his left fibula in two places and also snapped his Achilles tendons. He couldn't walk for four weeks and couldn't pitch for another three.
"I still can't get to first in time," he said. "But, fortunately, I didn't have one opportunity today. I pitched decent but not good. I could have pitched a lot better."
One CSUN hitter he couldn't get out in the first five innings Friday was Mark Ban, who hit homers in the third and fifth innings to increase his season total to 17. Both were high, majestic drives that carried over a 25-foot fence in right field and over the 20-foot netting above that. But Holmes, who said that the homers came on a knuckle-curve and a routine curve, wasn't awed by Ban's performance.
"He hit them pretty good, but he didn't impress me," said Holmes, who induced Ban to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and third in the sixth and CSUN leading, 6-5. "Unless he hits 10 in a row off me, I'm going to keep coming right at him."
The lead changed hands three times in the first four innings. After Paul Kaplan's sacrifice fly gave Northridge (14-7, 34-18-1) a 1-0 lead in the first, CSLA (9-12, 13-34) took a 3-1 lead in its first turn at bat on a bad-hop RBI single by Jim Lynch, a sacrifice fly by Steve Giovanazzi and a fielding error by second baseman Darryl Gilliam. CSUN regained the lead in the third when Bryant Long, who had three hits, doubled and Ban and Kaplan hit consecutive home runs. It was Kaplan's 11th of the season.
The Matadors then erased a 5-4 deficit in the fifth when Ban homered and Dick Jaquez doubled in a run for a 6-5 lead. But CSUN starter Jeremy Hernandez (7-3), who allowed 13 hits in 7 innings, yielded eighth-inning doubles to Don Whitsel and Mike Moore that snapped a 6-6 tie.