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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Ninth Inning is Winning Time for Northridge

College baseball: Matadors beat San Diego for third victory in ninth.

March 04, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — Cal State Northridge's baseball team is developing a knack for final-at-bat victories.

The Matadors pulled out their third ninth-inning triumph of the season Friday, as Bobby Koba's one-out pinch double drove home J.T. Stotts from first to give Northridge a 4-3 victory over San Diego before 168 fans on a chilly afternoon at Matador Field.

Northridge (7-9) trailed, 3-0, after 6 1/2 innings and had only two hits off left-hander Jared Hemus, who struck out eight. But as lightning began to strike overhead, the Matadors did the same on the diamond, chasing Hemus with a three-run seventh.

Right-hander Mike Frick of Northridge also was effective, waging a scoreless duel with Hemus before San Diego (12-8-1) struck for single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

"I was just trying to get the leadoff man out," Frick said. "It doesn't matter what the score is. Our whole philosophy as a staff is, it doesn't matter if we're up five runs or down five runs."

In the ninth, Koba, a junior infielder, collected his second hit and third run batted in. Koba has two hits in four at-bats.

"Everyone wants to play more on this team," Koba said. "But we all pull together and support each other. I just tried to hit it hard somewhere. Today, good things happened."

Stotts led off the ninth with a single off Ricky Barrett (0-1). Adrian Mendoza, the Matadors' best hitter, struck out, finishing hitless in five at-bats.

Koba followed with a line drive to right-center and Stotts narrowly beat a good relay throw with a head-first slide.

Merrill Dunn (3-0) struck out three and allowed one hit in two innings. Dunn escaped the eighth with two strikeouts that held a runner at third. Dunn retired the side in order in the ninth.

Frick struck out five and allowed five hits in seven innings. He threw 74 pitches.

"Seventy-four pitches in seven innings--that's getting it done," Coach Mike Batesole of Northridge said. "And then Merrill came out of the pen. I'll tell you, relief pitching is underrated."

Frick was able to keep the Toreros from having a big inning. Greg Sain's sacrifice fly off Frick broke a scoreless tie in the fifth and Kevin Reese had a sacrifice fly in the sixth. The Toreros pushed across a run on a double play in the seventh.

Eric Horvat's two-run single highlighted the Matadors' seventh. But the real attraction--aside from the electrical storm--was the pitching, Batesole said.

"(Hemus) threw a great game and mixed his pitches well," Batesole said. "He threw a lot of strikes."

Jason Allec had two of Northridge's six hits. Stotts scored two runs.

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