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Field of Broken Dreams

All-stars: Melancholy day for Northridge recruits Pesso and Horvat as East wins, 8-6.

June 15, 1997|PETER YOON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTHRIDGE — A glance around the baseball field at Cal State Northridge during Saturday's Bernie Milligan All-Star game made it clear that it was no ordinary all-star game.

There was neither pomp nor circumstance, no colorful banners. No fanfare.

The outfield grass is already starting to brown. The infield, muddy in more spots than it isn't, looks as if it has not been raked in weeks.

The East won, 8-6, in what is likely the last game to be played on the field for quite some time.

The mood, seemingly dictated by the dark clouds that covered the campus all afternoon, was somber because of Northridge's decision on Wednesday to cut the baseball program, among other sports.

For Eric Horvat of Hart High and Matt Pesso of Royal, participants in the game who were supposed to play their college years at Northridge, the honor of playing in a prestigious game was overshadowed by the frustration of knowing they will probably not step on that field again.

"It kind of hurts," Pesso said. "I really would've liked to play here. It's hard to get that taken away from you."

Pesso's West team was in the third-base dugout, where he would have sat for 30-40 games next season. He singled and reached base on an error in two at-bats.

But he was perturbed by the field condition.

"That kind of aggravated me," he said. "It's just not CSUN. I know this was a better program than that, but obviously it's not the baseball people's fault."

Horvat, who had a leadoff double for the East in the first inning but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, also was disappointed.

"This was the last hurrah here, I guess," he said. "I was looking forward to playing here, but I guess it didn't work out that way."

The game itself seemed irrelevant.

The East capitalized on two errors in the bottom of the eighth and scored four runs to take an 8-6 lead. The highlight of the inning was a two-run single by Palmdale's Corey Briggs, whose two errors in the seventh helped the West forge a 6-4 lead.

Bobby Graves of Hart and Wes Hutchinson of Burroughs held the West hitless through four innings and Alemany's Bill Scott, the game's most valuable player, gave the East a 3-0 lead with a two-run home run in the third inning.

Scott was two for three with two runs batted in and scored three runs.

"I didn't think it was going to be this fun," Scott said.

"I've been looking forward to this since the sixth grade when my dad brought me to one of these games."

North Hollywood's Merrill Dunn pitched two innings, allowing a run on three hits, to pick up the victory.

Chaminade's Chris Gray allowed four runs, one earned, in the eighth to take the loss.

The players changed shoes after the game, packed up their gear and filed out of the dugouts.

Pesso, one of the first to leave, handed his bag to his dad, did an about-face and went back to the field after most players left.

He scanned the field and looked into the dugout, then took a peek at the outfield scoreboard, which had flashed each player's name across it before the game.

While he was watching, the scoreboard went dark.

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