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Northridge Can't Stand Prosperity : College baseball: Generous Matadors commit four errors, twice blow three-run leads in 8-6 loss to Cal State L.A.

March 10, 1994|STEVE ELLING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a giving mood, visiting Cal State Northridge twice blew three-run leads Wednesday night before falling to Cal State Los Angeles, 8-6, in a nonconference game at Reeder Field.

Not exactly the momentum-building tuneup the Matadors, who committed four errors, envisioned heading into Friday's Western Athletic Conference home opener against Hawaii.

Northridge (9-10) won five out of six heading into the game and had leads of 3-0 and 5-2, but went into hibernation when the evening air turned chilly.

In fact, the bats just plain froze. Northridge managed three singles over the last six innings.

Cal State L.A., an NCAA Division II team that entered the game with a record of 6-15, trotted out a succession of pitchers that threw, in order: right, left, right, left, right. The Northridge bats dutifully marched into the night.

Jason Vargas was called on to relieve right-hander James Hines (0-1) in the sixth with Northridge holding a 5-4 lead and Cal State L.A. baserunners at second and third. Vargas was summoned after Hines had gone ahead of Fidencio Madero, 0-and-2.

Vargas struck out Madero on his first pitch. But thereafter, it got ugly in a hurry.

Before the inning was over, Vargas was called for two balks and unloaded two wild pitches. The Golden Eagles scored four times, despite only two hits. They also swiped two bases in the rally.

The balks clearly rattled Vargas, a junior right-hander. Both scored runners from third.

"(The umpire) said I put my hand in my glove and took it out," Vargas said. "I don't know. I wasn't really concentrating on that.

"After the first balk, I kind of lost control. I was angry, very angry. I didn't do a good job."

Joe Heim, a right-hander, pitched two scoreless innings to earn the victory in relief. Right-hander David Soliz pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the save.

It didn't begin in disappointing fashion. The Matadors scored in the first three innings, sparked by Eric Gillespie (three hits).

But each time it looked as though the Matadors were ready to deliver the haymaker, Cal State L.A. scrambled back and made it close.

With Northridge holding a 5-2 lead in the fourth, Hines jumped ahead of Randall Harris, 0-and-2, before walking him with one out. Jon Cornelius then whacked a pitch over the fence in left-center to bring CSLA to within 5-4.

Cal State L.A. scored two runs in the second to cut into a 3-0 lead as the Northridge defense wobbled badly. It started when Harris doubled to right-center with one out and Madero followed with a chopper down the line at third.

Tyler Nelson made a backhand grab, but threw the ball away, Harris scoring and Madero taking second. It got even nastier when a roller to shortstop Chad Thornhill hit the lip of the infield and rolled up his arm for an error.

Hines then unloaded a wild pitch to allow Madero to score from third, cutting the lead to 3-2.

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