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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | AREA COLLEGE NOTEBOOK

Master's Short-Handed for Sectional Playoffs

May 18, 2000

The Master's College baseball team will have a tough enough time taking on Albertson College in a best-of-three series beginning Friday for the NAIA sectional title at Caldwell, Idaho.

Albertson (46-11) was runner-up last season to NAIA national champion Lewis-Clark State and is ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Master's (34-11) won its first Region II title last weekend against Biola and has never advanced this far in the postseason.

The Mustangs might find it difficult to advance without shortstop Ty Sager and pitcher Mike Ploharz.

Sager, a two-year starter who set a school record with 78 hits last season, broke his left hand diving for a ball against Biola and is expected to miss two weeks. Freshman David Keesee, who has played sparingly, will replace Sager.

Ploharz, 11-0 and half of Master's one-two starting-pitching punch, was suspended last week by Coach Monte Brooks for disciplinary reasons and did not play in the three-game series against Biola.

Brooks said Tuesday there is no change in the status of Ploharz, a senior right-hander from Clovis High, but he did not rule out the pitcher's return.

Both players could return if Master's advances to the NAIA World Series, a 10-team, double-elimination tournament May 26-June 2 at Lewiston, Idaho.

The winner between Master's and Albertson advances to the World Series and the loser could receive an at-large bid.

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Brooks declined to name a starter for the opener today, but it likely will be junior right-hander Josh Higgins (12-4), the Mustangs' workhorse this season.

Higgins pitched 10 innings Saturday in a 12-inning loss to Biola and has gone the distance five times this season, including an 8-7 decision over Albertson in March.

Right-hander David Kuiper, 7-2 with a 2.20 earned-run average, is Albertson's ace. Left-hander John Smeed is 9-3 with a 3.52 ERA.

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Cal State Northridge's baseball season came to a close Tuesday night with a 6-3 loss to Cal State Fullerton.

For Northridge (23-33), which moves from independent status to the Big West Conference next season, it marked a second consecutive losing season for the first time since 1995.

Considering the inexperience throughout the Matadors' roster, the season was respectable. And the future looks bright.

Pitchers Bill Murphy, a freshman who was 2-6, and Andy Davidson, a sophomore who was 4-7, were among a young staff that showed promise and figures to be a strength.

Coach Mike Batesole continued to make strides rebuilding a program left devastated in 1997 when it was eliminated, then quickly reinstated.

The Matadors more than held their own this season against future Big West opponents, winning eight of 11 games.

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Redlands softball pitcher Nicole Rinetti, a La Reina High graduate, has been selected All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

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