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DOMINGUEZ

Matadors Might Hang at Hangar

July 25, 1999|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ

Although the specifics still are being worked out, Cal State Northridge and the city of Lancaster are hoping to stage a college baseball tournament for the spring of 2001.

Bob Greene, assistant director of the Lancaster Parks and Recreation and Arts Dept., said plans are marching ahead to hold the competition, probably at the Hangar, home of the Class A Lancaster JetHawks.

"We still need to finalize some things, not only verbally, but in writing," Greene said.

Coach Mike Batesole of Northridge said one possible format would involve four teams--the Matadors and possibly one each from the Pacific 10, Big Ten and Big 12 conferences, in round-robin play in March 2001.

"We are trying to get the best three teams we can get from those leagues," said Batesole, who last week signed a four-year contract extension. "It's much easier for everyone involved if you play a round-robin tournament."

Greene said discussions continue about the tournament's financing and whether corporate sponsors will be sought. He believes the community would support the tournament, as it does the JetHawks.

The JetHawks last week reached one million in attendance in their 255th regular-season game, becoming the third-fastest team in California League history to reach the plateau. Lancaster is averaging 3,224 this season.

"We think [the tournament] is going to happen," Greene said.

*

Three players from the region will meet when the U.S. and Mexico square off Tuesday at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.

Shortstop Adam Kennedy, a former All-American at Northridge, and pitcher Derek Wallace, who played at Chatsworth High, are on the U.S. squad.

They will play against pitcher Javier Delahoya, a Grant graduate, of Mexico on Tuesday.

All are playing in triple A, Kennedy at Memphis (Cardinals) of the Pacific Coast League, Wallace at Norfolk (Mets) and Delahoya at Rochester (Orioles) of the International League.

Delahoya, 29, has resurrected a 10-year minor league career. He was 9-1 with a 3.36 earned-run average at double-A Bowie before being promoted in June to Rochester, where he is 2-1 with a 6.42 ERA.

The Red Wings are his 13th minor league team, not counting a stint in the Mexican League in 1996.

Mexico opens pool play today against powerhouse Cuba and the U.S. gets going against Canada on Monday. That's a rough one-two punch the Mexicans must face right off the bat.

*

Trivia: Robin Yount, the former Taft High and Milwaukee Brewer star, today becomes the second player from the Valley inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Who was the other?

*

Now they know how Kevin Nykoluk would play in Peoria.

The former Simi Valley and Moorpark College catcher on Monday played three positions for Peoria, the St. Louis Cardinals' Class-A team in the Midwest League, in a 14-1 loss to Wisconsin.

He pitched for the first time since high school.

"We were getting killed," Nykoluk said. "[The coaches] didn't want to waste any more pitchers. . . . I'm always screwing around pitching in the bullpen."

Nykoluk spent the first five innings behind the plate, the next three at first base and the ninth on the mound. He allowed one baserunner, on a walk.

"I got them out with my knuckleball," Nykoluk said.

Nykoluk is batting .210 in only 100 at-bats, but said his hitting is picking up.

"In the beginning of the year I wasn't playing very much, I was struggling," Nykoluk said. "You start playing everyday, you start getting in the groove."

*

The starting lineup for the Central Division against the Eastern Division in the independent Northern League All-Star Game on Aug. 2 at Fargo, N.D., will feature four players from the region.

They are second baseman John Toven (Kennedy) of Sioux City, shortstop Chad Thornhill (Northridge) of Winnipeg and outfielders Bryan Warner (Glendale College) of Duluth-Superior and Chris Vasquez (Hart, Canyons) of Madison.

Vasquez leads the league with a .387 batting average, 75 hits and 21 doubles. He has seven home runs and 41 runs batted in.

Warner is third in batting at .347 and Thornhill is tied for seventh with Billy Ashley, the former Dodger outfielder, at .326. Toven is batting .302 and is second in the league with 21 stolen bases.

*

Junior first baseman Josh Persell of USC, who played at Montclair Prep, is making a splash with the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the Northwoods college summer league.

Persell, who walked on at USC, is second in the league with a .403 batting average and in runs batted in with 43.

He sent 12 balls over the fence at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud, Minn., to win the home run derby at the All-Star game on July 12.

Persell had two singles to help the North defeat the South, 3-2, in 13 innings.

*

Outfielders Kurt Airoso and Eric Gillespie of Jacksonville (Tigers), former Northridge teammates, were on the wrong side of a no-hitter on Thursday, when David Manning (7-0) of West Tennessee (Cubs) beat the the Suns, 1-0.

Airoso had two at-bats and walked twice, and Gillespie had three at-bats and walked once.

*

Trivia answer: Don Drysdale, the former Dodger pitching great, who played at Van Nuys in the 1950s. Drysdale was inducted in 1984.

*

Short hops: Iowa (Cubs) left-hander Andrew Lorraine (Hart) is sixth in the Pacific Coast League with a 3.76 earned-run average. Oklahoma (Rangers) right-hander Brandon Knight (Buena, Ventura College) is seventh at 3.86. Knight leads the league with four complete games. . . . Mobile (Padres) first baseman Pete Paciorek (Glendale College) returned to the starting lineup on Thursday after being sidelined several weeks because of a broken jaw. He pinch-hit earlier in the week.

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