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Kernen Finds Relief Where It Ought to Be

March 03, 1994

The struggles of the Cal State Northridge baseball team's pitching rotation may have a silver lining: The relief corps, which historically hasn't received much work, has performed well.

Rick Orr, Aaron D'Aoust and Jason Vargas have allowed seven earned runs in 24 innings. The total includes a spot start by Orr against Ohio State, in which he allowed three earned runs in seven innings, and a spot start by Vargas in a 6-4 victory over Cal Baptist Wednesday.

All three are right-handed junior college transfers. Vargas hasn't allowed a baserunner in two innings of relief.

Northridge usually finishes near the top of the heap in complete games among NCAA Division I teams. Through 14 games, starters have completed eight starts. In 1993, Matador starters completed 31 of 56 games.

In short, Northridge has some options.

"We found out that we have some guys who can contribute," Coach Bill Kernen said.

*

Northridge (5-9) finished the Florida Gator Slug-Fest a bit tattered, but also battle-tested.

The Matadors were exposed to some adverse conditions--namely in a 14-2 loss to host Florida before more than 2,200 raucous fans--that should help the team grow. Northridge finished the tournament with a 1-3 record.

"What I hope the players take with them is that we played against teams that are some of the best in the nation," Kernen said. "We held our own in a hostile environment.

"Hopefully, they'll look around and say, 'Hey, we belong in this mix.' "

*

Jason Shanahan's six-hit outburst in Sunday's doubleheader against Ohio State was a bit mystifying. He entered the game batting .182 with three runs batted--all on a three-run homer against Cal State Fullerton.

The first game started at 9:30 a.m. Maybe it was the coffee. Or the eggs.

"I had French toast--the same thing I've had every day," Shanahan said. "So it definitely wasn't that."

Shanahan, a junior and a returning starter, banged out six hits in the two games and added three RBIs. Even though Shanahan had been struggling, Kernen inserted him in the cleanup spot Saturday against Florida.

"I feel personally that that's where I should be," Shanahan said. "I know I've struggled, but I'm still confident in myself."

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Fast fact: Northridge begins Western Athletic Conference play March 11 with a three-game series at home against Hawaii. The Rainbows are probably the team to beat in the West Division. Hawaii (12-6) is the only WAC team ranked (19th) by Collegiate Baseball.

*

If it works, don't fix it.

That seemed to be the credo Matador softball Coach Gary Torgeson used to guide his team to the championship of the Fabulous Four tournament in San Jose.

In the first round, Kathy Blake shut out Cal, 2-0; Jen Richardson beat Santa Clara, 13-0, on a two-hitter; and Amy Windmiller beat San Jose State, 1-0, on a one-hitter.

So what did Torgeson do in the second round of the round-robin tournament?

Nothing different.

Blake downed Cal again, 1-0; Richardson tossed another two-hitter against Santa Clara, winning, 3-0; and Windmiller again faced San Jose State, although this time CSUN lost, 1-0.

The Master's

Mike Penberthy is the Mustangs' fifth-leading scorer (9.4) this season, but he could play a major role in the team's quest to make the NAIA basketball playoffs for the first time.

The 6-foot-2 freshman from Fresno Hoover High averaged 17 points in the last five games of the regular season while shooting 62.0% from the field and 59.1% from three-point range.

Although Penberthy has rung up big numbers against overmatched opponents--Master's won four of its last five games by an average of 50.5 points--he also scored 15 points in the second half of a 88-84 loss to Biola on Feb. 18.

"I think he's just getting more comfortable and more familiar with our offense," Coach Bill Oates said. "He's starting to know where the shots are going to come from."

*

Rogerio Soares missed the final two games of the regular season with an injured left knee and is listed as questionable for Friday's game against Christian Heritage in the first round of the NAIA Far West Region Independents tournament.

Soares, a 6-foot-6 junior from Brazil, is averaging only 7.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, but he is an integral part of Master's eight-man rotation.

*

The term hard-luck pitcher can be defined in two words: Matt Davis.

The senior right-hander was the losing pitcher twice last week through no fault of his own.

On Tuesday against Cal State Dominguez Hills, Davis tossed a four-hitter and lost, 1-0. On Saturday against Pt. Loma Nazarene, he was the loser when the Mustangs committed two errors in the 13th inning to drop a 4-3 decision.

"We've been getting good pitching all year," Coach Chris Harrison said "We're just not playing solid defense."

Maybe the luck of Davis finally is changing. On Monday, the Mustangs hammered Cal Lutheran, 13-3, and Davis was the winning pitcher.

Cal Lutheran

So much for the showdown.

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