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CSUN Comes Up Empty Against Fullerton

Baseball: Saving best for conference race, Matadors fall to defending national champion, 4-1.

May 02, 1996|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — One season-long goal attained, Robert Fick and Adam Kennedy of Cal State Northridge went after another on Wednesday.

One out of two isn't bad.

Fick and Kennedy this week became the first Cal State Northridge players to be invited to try out for the U.S. Olympic Team.

A victory over defending national champion Cal State Fullerton would have made the week even more memorable, but all Kennedy will remember about this 4-1 loss was hitting into a triple play.

Fick, hitless in four at-bats, will remember even less.

As nonconference games go, it was far more interesting and somewhat more important than most, as the season-high crowd of 738 at Matador Field can attest. This was the only regular-season meeting between perennial power Fullerton (40-8) and upstart Northridge (42-14).

Had they won, the Matadors might have been looked upon more favorably by the NCAA when playoff seedings are made.

Defending champion or not, Fullerton paled in comparison to lowly Cal State Sacramento (10-40), which visits Northridge for three Western Athletic Conference games beginning Friday.

Two victories will clinch Northridge's first conference championship since it joined the Division I ranks in 1991.

"We kept our priorities in line, and it's tough to do that and beat a team as good as Fullerton," Northridge Coach Mike Batesole said.

Priorities included resting the Matadors' top four pitchers and giving Fick's legs a break by playing him at first base instead of catcher.

Fullerton started right-handed ace Kirk Irvine and finished with Mark Chavez, who notched his eighth save.

Strong defense and the bat of national player of the year Mark Kotsay were key for Fullerton.

Kotsay homered with none on in the eighth, his 17th, to extend the Titans' lead to 3-1, and also doubled and singled.

Northridge scored in the first. Kennedy led off with a bunt single, advanced to second on a sacrifice by Kurt Airoso and scored with two out on a triple by Eric Gillespie.

Kennedy and Airoso singled to open the third, but Kotsay chased down Fick's long drive to center field for the first out. Kennedy advanced to third, but when he tried to score on Gillespie's fly to center, Kotsay gunned him out at the plate.

A double by Cesar Martinez and walk to Ryan Hurd opened the fifth, but Kennedy's line drive was backhanded by first baseman C.J. Ankrum, who stepped on the bag to retire Hurd and threw to second to complete the triple play.

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