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Toro Nine to Play Host to NCAA Playoffs

May 14, 1987|ALAN DROOZ

The NCAA Division II Western Regional baseball playoffs will open at Cal State Dominguez Hills Friday with a noon game between Cal State Northridge and Chico State. Dominguez Hills, the nation's third-ranked team and the top seed in the regionals, will play the loser of that game at 3 p.m.

If that team loses to the Toros it will drop out in the double-elimination format and the surviving teams will play a best-of-three series. If Dominguez Hills loses its opener, it will play Saturday morning against the winner of Friday's first game.

The Toros, who finished with a best-ever record of 39-13, have won 29 of their last 35 games and 13 of 15. Their loss in the last regular game of the season snapped a nine-game winning streak. Northridge, the conference runner-up to Dominguez Hills, is 36-20. Chico, the Northern California Athletic Conference winner, is 35-15.

The Toros have been in only one other playoff, being eliminated last year in Sacramento. For what it's worth, the host school has won six of the seven Western regionals in the 1980s, and Southern California teams have won 17 of 19 Western regionals. The Toros also like Fridays and Saturdays, with a 19-4 record on those days. They're 12-2 in Saturday games.

The Western winner will advance along with seven other regional winners to the Division II World Series at Troy State in Montgomery, Ala.

Senior Fred Hanker broke his school record for runs batted in with his 57th over the weekend. Hanker has 169 RBI in 157 games over the last three seasons and has led the Toros in RBI in all four varsity seasons. He has batted .460 in the last 14 games to raise his season average to .314.

Outfielder Jon Beuder continues to swing a hot bat, taking a .373 average into the playoffs. The school record is .361. Beuder's seven triples tied a school record and his 69 hits are nine short of another. He also leads the Toros in runs (46), slugging percentage (.573) and steals (21).

Senior right-hander Mike Aspray is the Toros' top starter with a 10-3 record and 2.90 earned-run average. When right-hander Chris Haslock comes out of the bullpen, the game is usually over. The junior set a school record with 11 saves in 13 opportunities and has a shot at the national record of 15. Haslock has a 7-2 record with a 2.59 ERA.

Northridge is a power-hitting team that set school records in home runs (101) and doubles (138). The lineup has five hitters with 10 or more homers and nine players hitting .300 or better. The Matadors are making their 12th NCAA appearance and have won five regional titles and two national championships.

Chico State is making its second playoff appearance and first since 1978. The Wildcats are batting .344 as a team with 11 .300 hitters.

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