Gary Adams usually makes the most of his visits to the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas.
The region has served as a prime recruiting ground for the UCLA baseball coach, who has eight players--including four starters--from the Valley area on his 26-man roster.
Adams was back Tuesday afternoon to show off some of his prize catches as UCLA out-slugged Cal State Northridge, 12-8, in a non-conference game played in Northridge.
"I'm not going to turn my back on somebody in our own front yard," Adams said. "The Valley has good players."
The Valley connection, although not at full strength with third baseman Scott Cline of Camarillo High resting a sore knee, played a key role in the UCLA victory.
Torey Lovullo, out of Montclair Prep, gave the Bruins a 5-1 lead in the second inning with a solo home run, his eighth. Lovullo, a second baseman, shared player of the week honors in the Pacific 10's Southern Division last week after hitting five home runs, including two in one inning against California. That tied an NCAA record.
Starting catcher Todd Zeile, out of Hart High, played six innings in a reserve role at third base. He had three hits, a run batted in and scored once.
And Scott St. John, out of Polytechnic and Mission College, provided UCLA with valuable insurance with a two-run home run in the sixth.
"It was a big home run," Adams said. "At the time, nobody thought so."
That's because, at the time, the Bruins held a comfortable 11-1 lead. Then it got interesting.
Northridge (7-9), which managed four hits and nine strikeouts over the first six innings, erupted for seven runs on seven hits off UCLA reliever Keith Shibata to close the lead to 11-8 in the seventh inning.
Chris Pinsak and Rob Scott, who struck out in his first three at bats, each hit home runs. Tim Rapp added a two-run triple and Mark Anderson singled home another run in the inning.
Northridge Coach Terry Craven was disappointed that it took his club so long to get into the game.
"The thing we talked about after the game was being ready to play from the time you step on the field until the game is over," he said. "I thought we had the worst pregame we've had this year.
"Guys just weren't into it. They were out here, but weren't getting into the game situation in terms of preparation. That's how we went through the first few innings."
Later, the Matadors' inability to execute a bunt cost them in their attempt to catch UCLA.
Jimmy Mitchell singled to open the eighth inning, and Gary Williams, who hit a home run to lead off the game, reached base on an error by Charlie Fiacco, formerly of Camarillo High.
With the middle of the order due up, Craven instructed Rapp to bunt the runners into scoring position. After failing his first attempt and falling behind on the count, Rapp bounced into a double play.
Pinsak then walked to bring the tying run--cleanup hitter John Balfanz--to the plate. Balfanz struck out to end Northridge's last threat.
"We didn't execute the bunt. And it was a classic bunt situation, with runners on first and second, nobody out and your No. 2 hitter up," Craven said.
"Then, John was the ideal guy to have up in the next situation, and he struck out. I don't want to put the blame on one guy, but he was the ideal guy to have up there.
"The inning turned out to be a bust," Craven said.
As did the Northridge rally.
The victory went to sophomore Alex Sanchez, who worked three innings to tune up for UCLA's weekend series with Arizona. Sanchez is 6-0. . . . Northridge plays Westmont in a home game today at 2:30 p.m. John LaRosa (1-1) is the scheduled starter. . . . Outfielder Jim Vatcher had the wires removed from his broken jaw Monday, but was held out of the UCLA game.