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Kennedy's Retort Is Long and Loud

College baseball: CSUN shortstop answers hecklers with three-run blast that propels Matadors to 10-1 WAC win at San Luis Obispo.

February 25, 1996|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN LUIS OBISPO — As a snappy comeback to a barrage of insults, it was the ultimate zinger.

Adam Kennedy's three-run home run in the seventh inning snapped a tie and propelled Cal State Northridge to a 10-1 Western Athletic Conference victory Saturday night before 452 at San Luis Obispo Stadium.

The announced crowd did not include a large group of unruly Cal Poly fans gathered outside the stadium fence near third base who ragged Kennedy, the Matador shortstop, unmercifully. Kennedy's home run gave Northridge a 4-1 lead, and he raised a fist at the hecklers as he rounded third as if to say one swing was worth 1,000 insults.

The game was punctuated by plenty of screaming: Northridge Coach Mike Batesole was ejected for arguing a foul-tip call in the sixth and Matador first baseman Grant Hohman was tossed after striking out in the eighth.

None of it bothered Kennedy, who added a two-run single in the eighth, giving him a team-high 27 runs batted in. After the Matador leadoff hitter got the last laugh on the hecklers, his teammates turned the game into a laugher, finishing with 11 hits.

"We enjoy a little ragging but that was getting ridiculous," Kennedy said. "When you do something like [hit a home run], it makes it fun."

The victory was the ninth in a row for Northridge (14-1, 2-0 in conference play), which has the most wins in Division I. Ace right-hander Robert Crabtree (5-0) will pitch today for the Matadors in the series finale.

Right-hander Eric Cole became the latest in a string of effective Matador starting pitchers, allowing four hits and one run in seven innings. The junior right-hander exited after Northridge put the game away with four runs in the eighth. Juan Velazquez pitched the eighth and ninth.

"I was ready for this start," said Cole (2-0), whose earned-run average is 1.36.

Cal Poly (7-5, 2-2) stayed close until the seventh on the strength of right-hander Matt Atterberry, who after allowing a run in the first held Northridge scoreless until Kennedy drilled a two-and-one pitch over the right-field fence.

Rob Neal, a senior Cal Poly outfielder from Westlake High who has a batting average of .342 in his career, did not start because of an ankle injury. Neal pinch-hit with two out and two on in the seventh and grounded out to third.

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