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Matadors Don't Get Caught Looking Ahead to Weekend

Baseball: Northridge tunes up for important games against USC and UCLA with 23-5 rout over San Bernardino.


NORTHRIDGE — As tuneups go, your trusty neighborhood mechanic couldn't have done a better job.

With the season's most important weekend on the horizon, Cal State Northridge beat up on Cal State San Bernardino, 23-5, Tuesday at Matador Field.

Jose Miranda hit two three-run home runs, Adrian Mendoza had five hits, Adam Kennedy had four and Terrmel Sledge had three. Northridge (41-18-1) enters its last three regular-season games--two against USC and one against UCLA--with confident hitters.

"Everyone is feeling good about their swings," Miranda said. "All the little guys are coming up big, getting on base so me and Adam are able to drive them in."

The Matadors are batting .341 and have outscored opponents, 602-338.

Northridge, ranked No. 25 by Baseball America magazine, probably must win at least two games to gain an at-large NCAA tournament berth. The Matadors have split two games with USC and tied in their only game against UCLA.

A difference will be that USC is scheduled to start its top two pitchers--left-hander Randy Flores and right-hander Seth Etherton--in the games Saturday at Northridge and Sunday at USC. The previous meetings came during mid-week and the Trojans held out their top pitchers.

"I'm real excited about facing their best guys," Miranda said. "That's what we expect to see in the regionals, anyway."

Miranda, who has 24 homers, 88 runs batted in and is batting .399, drove in seven runs against San Bernardino (24-29). The Coyotes defeated Northridge, 4-3, in early April, one of only four Matador losses in their past 23 games.

This time, Northridge collected 23 hits, including 10 for extra bases. Freshman catcher Jeremy Sickles homered and Sledge and Mendoza each had two doubles.

The Matadors scored in every inning but the fourth, getting three runs in the first, second, fifth, sixth and eighth, one in the third and seven in the seventh.

Northridge starter Carey Novits was pulled after giving up a single and walk to the first two batters, but Jesse Yeomans (3-1) allowed one earned run in six innings, striking out eight and walking none.

Matador notes

Northridge senior reliever Gary Stephenson (3-2, three saves) might be drafted in June because his fastball has been timed at 90 mph. Stephenson was a late-round draft pick out of Hart High in 1993. . . . Senior center fielder Andy Wilson, a transfer from Arkansas who attended Thousand Oaks High and Oxnard College, is batting .350 and gives Northridge speed at the bottom of the lineup. Wilson has scored 61 runs on 64 hits and has 14 stolen bases. . . . Adam Kennedy raised his hit total to 128 and is all but certain to become the first player to lead the nation in hits in consecutive seasons.

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