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Traveling in Fast Lane, Matadors Fall in Slow Motion

Baseball: Fresno State left-hander Navarro stymies Northridge with off-speed deliveries, 7-2.


FRESNO — Slow and steady Scott Navarro stopped Cal State Northridge cold on Saturday night.

The Fresno State left-hander used a devastating changeup and a fastball clocked at all of 77 mph to defeat Northridge, 7-2, in a Western Athletic Conference game before 3,140 at Beiden Field.

"I usually pitch well when it's cold and it was kind of cool tonight," said Navarro, a senior from Sunnyvale, Calif.

Navarro (7-2) entered the game with a 6.01 earned-run average and had allowed 106 hits in 76 1/3 innings, but Northridge managed only six hits against him. Navarro walked none and struck out 10.

Robert Crabtree, the Northridge pitcher, knows all about cold as well. Crabtree surrendered three home runs and took his fourth loss in a row. After notching his nation-leading 11th victory March 29, Crabtree (11-5) has had his earned-run average balloon from 2.24 to 4.06.

Fresno State's No. 9 batter, Jay Brauning, hit solo home runs in the fifth and seventh innings and Giuseppe Chiaramonte drilled a fastball over the left-field fence for a three-run blast in the eighth.

"I felt like all my pitches were working," Crabtree said. "I made three bad pitches on the home runs."

Matador pitching coach Dan Cowgill is perplexed at the ineffectiveness of his ace.

"We've had 30 guys say 30 different things," Cowgill said. "I wish I knew the answer."

Navarro retired the first 10 batters before Kurt Airoso doubled, Robert Fick singled to score Airoso and Eric Gillespie singled in the fourth. The run batted in was Fick's 14th in five games against Fresno State this season.

Navarro retired the next 12 Matadors. Singles by Jeremy Conrad and Ryan Hurd in the eighth and a solo home run by Gillespie--his 15th--in the ninth was the only noise Northridge made thereafter.

Losing to a left-hander is rare for Northridge even though the team's top four hitters are left-handed. The Matadors are 12-3 against left-handers.

Northridge (39-11, 16-7 in WAC play) remains two games in front of San Diego State, which was defeated by Hawaii on Saturday. Fresno State (26-22, 13-10 in WAC play) is in third place.

Matador Notes

The plate umpire was former Agoura High basketball coach Bob LaBelle, who umpired in the Valley area before moving to Oakhurst several years ago. LaBelle is the principal at Yosemite High. . . . Bryant Fick, nephew of Northridge catcher Robert Fick, will sign a letter of intent with the Matadors this week. Bryant, a left-handed pitcher from Newbury Park High who has played at Ventura College and Wyoming, is the son of Bill Fick, the oldest of Robert's five brothers. . . . Designated hitter Jeremy Conrad separated his left shoulder trying to score on an errant pitch in the eighth inning. Conrad collided with Bulldog catcher Giuseppe Chiaramonte, who tagged him out. . . . First baseman/designated hitter Casey Cheshier was struck on the mouth with a ground ball during warmups and needed stitches after the game.

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