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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Matadors Drop Two to Hard-Hitting USC

College baseball: Northridge extends slump with losses of 17-9 and 7-6, and reliever Andrew Sanchez is hospitalized after being hit on head by line drive.

April 03, 1999|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two losses in one day for the Cal State Northridge baseball team. And one big bruise.

The Matadors dropped a nonconference doubleheader at USC on Friday, losing 17-9 and 7-6, adding to a skid that includes eight loses in 10 games.

"It's pretty hard to lose like this," second baseman Kevin Patrick said. "Especially when we know we're a better team than this."

The Matadors almost lost much more.

In a terrifying scene, reliever Andrew Sanchez of Northridge was struck on the temple by a line drive off the bat of Dominic Correa in the third inning of the first game.

Sanchez collapsed and play was halted after Brad Ticehurst scored from third to give the Trojans a 12-4 lead.

After a half-hour delay, Sanchez was taken by ambulance to L.A. County USC Medical Center, where he underwent X-rays and was expected to be held overnight for observation.

Northridge trainer Justin Kiesby, who traveled to the hospital with Sanchez, said the pitcher suffered a "mild concussion." Sanchez was moving his arms and torso when he was taken away by ambulance.

"I've never seen anything like that before," Coach Mike Batesole of Northridge said. "I think they want to keep him overnight and make sure he's OK. They might release him [Saturday]; they might keep him for a week."

Matador designated hitter Eric Horvat said Sanchez apparently was all right, except for severe swelling.

"You don't know what to think when you see that," Horvat said. "It's scary."

The teams are scheduled to conclude their three-game series today at 1 at Northridge.

Northridge (20-22) fell behind early against one of the nation's best pitchers, left-hander Barry Zito (6-2), in the first game.

Zito, a standout at Pierce College last season, pitched five innings to earn the victory, striking out eight and allowing four hits and four earned runs.

Zito twice stuck out Dan Phillips, the Matadors' top power hitter and a teammate last season at Pierce.

"He is one of the best left-handers I've ever seen," Batesole said of Zito.

Zito was tagged for home runs by Jeremy Sickles, who gave Northridge a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and Matt Synhorst, who had a two-run homer in the second.

USC jumped on starter Trevor Gray (4-1) in the first inning, scoring seven runs, all earned, and chasing Gray with two out.

USC added four runs in the second and two in the third, taking a 13-4 lead while Sanchez was taking an ambulance ride.

Before it was over, the Trojans had battered five Northridge pitchers for 17 hits, seven for extra bases.

In the fifth, reliever Michael Rainer came close to Correa with two pitches, triggering a brief stoppage of play while both benches stirred.

After a walk to Correa, Carlos Casillas launched a two-run home run to right field that gave USC a 15-4 lead.

In the second game, Northridge fell behind, 4-0, in the second. Greg Hanoian's three-run home run off Jose Vasquez (0-4) provided the big blow.

Northridge rallied for two runs in the third inning, and pulled to within 4-3 in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk to Jason Gorman.

Trailing, 7-3, in the eighth, the Matadors narrowed the margin to 7-6.

In the ninth, Northridge placed runners at first and second with one out, but reliever Rik Currier struck out Mike Bumstead and Adrian Mendoza to end the game.

Mendoza struck out eight times in nine at-bats.

Horvat, one of the Matadors' top hitters, had one hit in nine at-bats.

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