It is a little too early in the season to call him Hammerin' Mike Hankins--the sophomore from Simi Valley High is not even considered an everyday player for the UCLA baseball team.
That, however, may change if Hankins continues to swing the bat the way he did Wednesday against Cal State Northridge. With the help of a strong breeze, Hankins went 4 for 4, slugged 2 home runs and drove in 5 runs to help the Bruins to a 13-8 nonconference win.
"What a day," UCLA Coach Gary Adams said. "The kid comes back to haunt the Valley."
As is often the case involving unlikely heroes, Hankins was not even supposed to be in the lineup. But with first baseman Eric Karros ailing, Adams was forced to move Bobby Holley from shortstop to first and Hankins from the bench to the bottom of the order.
"We batted him ninth and hoped he'd get a hit or two," Adams said. "I never dreamed he would do that."
Neither did Hankins, who drove a Fili Martinez pitch over the right-field wall for a wind-blown three-run home run that capped a five-run second inning and put the Bruins ahead, 5-3.
"I didn't think it was going out when I hit it," said Hankins, who batted .214 in 32 games last season. "I did on the second one."
That home run, a solo shot to right off losing pitcher Geoff Curtis (0-1), came in the eighth inning and gave UCLA a 9-8 lead.
The game was not a total bust for Northridge (2-3), which got 10 hits, including home runs from Mark Anderson and Randy Thompson.
The Matadors jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Lenn Gilmore provided the key blow of the rally when he tripled down the right-field line with a runner on base. The ball caromed off the wall past outfielder Jeff Osborn, whose relay throw bounced past Hankins at shortstop, allowing Gilmore to score.
UCLA (5-1) went ahead, 8-5, in the sixth when former Camarillo standout Charlie Fiacco blasted Curtis' first pitch over the left-field wall.
Northridge drew within a run in the home half of the sixth on Thompson's two-run homer to left off freshman left-hander Chris Spears, formerly of Crespi High.
The Matadors tied the score in the next inning on Anderson's home run to left off winning pitcher John Dishon (1-0).