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Fresno State Routs CSUN, 10-1 : College baseball: Reeling Matadors fall virtually out of contention for WAC West title.


FRESNO — Cal State Northridge's baseball players were convinced they were the better team after losing to Fresno State by two runs on Friday.

Then, they lost Saturday on a heartbreaking 10th-inning error.

So how do they explain Sunday's 10-1 loss in the series finale at Beiden Field?

"We didn't show up," senior catcher Mike Sims said. "What Northridge is about is coming out every day and playing your butt off. A disappointing loss shouldn't affect you. If anything, it should make you come back more determined."

Part of the letdown could be attributed to left-hander John Bushart's sub-par performance. The Northridge offense expects Bushart, the ace of the staff, to keep the score down. When he gave up seven runs in the first five innings, it had a negative effect.

"We got behind early and I think we put our heads down," infielder Chris Olsen said. "The way our season is going, we rolled over."

The sweep left the Matadors (26-15) in fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference West with an 8-10 record, 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Bulldogs (31-13, 10-3 in WAC play) and virtually out of contention for the WAC West title.

"We are out unless we win the last six (WAC) games," Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said.

It appears as if Northridge's only hope for a third consecutive berth in the NCAA Division I tournament is to beef up its 18-5 nonconference record in its last five nonconference games.

Kernen believes, however, that a second-place finish in the WAC West could earn Northridge an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament so his emphasis remains on the conference race.

Fresno State, winner of six consecutive games, is in the driver's seat--and was on Cruise control on Sunday.

Mark Cruise (5-3), the Bulldogs' 6-foot-5 right-hander, tossed a three-hitter, using only 105 pitches. The only players to get a hit off Cruise were Sims, who belted a solo home run, and Andy Hodgins, who singled twice.

Cruise struck out four, increasing the Matadors' strikeout total to 30 in the three-game series. "The umpires took the strike zone away," Olsen said. "If you give them a chance, they rein you in."

Bushart (8-3) has been reined in lately by a tired arm. Fresno State rocked him for eight hits and he walked four batters, three of whom scored. "My arm is getting better, stronger every time," Bushart said. "I'll keep pitching through it. I have no other choice."

Johnny Najar, a transfer from Fresno State, relieved Bushart and gave up three runs on three hits in the sixth and the seventh.

Matador Notes

Team hitting leader Greg Shepard went one for 13 in the series. . . . Shortstop Andy Hodgins led the team with a six-for-13 effort. . . . David Prosenko started for the first time since breaking his left pinky April 16. Prosenko was used as the designated hitter, which put regular designated hitter Keyaan Cook at second base and regular second baseman Chris Olsen at first base.

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