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Melendez, Pepperdine Rock CSUN

May 06, 1992|MIKE HISERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Right-handers Kenny Kendrena of Cal State Northridge and Patrick Ahearne of Pepperdine met in what was supposed to be a pitching duel Tuesday at Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu.

It never materialized.

What took place resembled more of a home run derby--and a one-sided one at that.

Fifth-ranked Pepperdine, not known for power hitting, produced seven home runs--including four in the seventh inning--in an 11-2 rout of the Matadors, ranked sixth by one publication.

Three of the home runs were hit by Dan Melendez, the Waves' junior first baseman who also is a member of Team USA. Melendez bumped his season home run total to 10 with three-run blasts in the first and fifth innings and a solo shot in the seventh.

In the process, he might also have bumped off a potential teammate.

Kendrena, under consideration for a national team tryout, was rocked for 13 hits and 10 earned runs in seven innings.

Northridge Coach Bill Kernen dismissed Kendrena's outing as a "blip on the screen that hasn't happened before and probably won't happen again," and the Waves, based on their postgame comments, seemed to agree.

"Kenny Kendrena has probably never been hit like that before in his life," Pepperdine Coach Andy Lopez said.

Last season, when Kendrena pitched Northridge to a 5-2 win over the Waves, Melendez said he was "down and nasty. It was a frustrating day."

This time, Melendez reported the senior's pitches were uncharacteristically up in the strike zone. Still, Kendrena (9-5) made only one costly mistake in the first four innings.

In the first, he left a split-finger pitch up and over the plate and Melendez slugged it high over the 330-foot sign down the right-field line.

A solo home run by Scott Mowl cut Pepperdine's advantage to 3-1 in the fourth, but the Waves (35-10-1) started peppering Kendrena's offerings the following inning.

With runners on second and third with one out, Northridge (36-11-1) didn't help itself with some questionable strategy. With first base open and the Waves' slowest runner, designated hitter David Main, on deck, the Matadors chose to pitch to Melendez.

Kendrena's second pitch, a fastball, was hit about 400 feet to right-center and suddenly the score was 6-1.

"For some reason we thought he wouldn't be looking for a ball in on him," Kendrena said. "Bad assumption."

One out later, Mark Wasikowski hit a solo homer to left and the rout was on.

Kendrena held back the Waves in the sixth, but after retiring the first batter in the seventh, he gave up home runs to four of the next five batters.

Melendez started the outburst with his third home run, tying a school record. Main followed with his ninth homer on the next pitch.

One out later, Chris Sheff and Keven Dell'Amico slugged back-to-back home runs.

Meanwhile, Ahearne (12-1) cruised through 7 2/3 innings, giving up only three hits before he was replaced by former Chatsworth High standout Derek Wallace.

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