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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Blond Bomber Powers Matadors

April 01, 2001|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — Blonds might have more fun, but J.T. Stotts wouldn't know. He's in the swing of things no matter the the color of his mane.

Stotts capped an enjoyable Saturday with an eighth-inning solo home run in Cal State Northridge's 7-1 nonconference victory over Cal State Sacramento at Northridge.

After the game, Stotts removed his cap to unveil a golden coiffure.

Stotts, a junior shortstop and cover boy of the Matadors' media guide, bleached his brown hair Friday in time for his appearance Saturday morning on a local television sports-talk program.

Then he helped batter Sacramento's pitching by collecting three of the Matadors' 12 hits.

"It was a freak thing," said Stotts, who leads Northridge with nine home runs. "[Pitcher] Andy Davidson did it first. They had some extra bleach stuff, so I said, 'Why not?' "

Stotts' home run was one of three by the Matadors, who won for the seventh time in nine games and were 12-4 in March.

Adam Nikolic hit a two-run home run and Robert Smith had a solo shot, both in the third inning, that staked Northridge (21-10) to a 4-1 lead.

Nikolic, who had his first two home runs of the season Wednesday against Pepperdine, was three for four and drove in three runs.

"I'd say our hitting is contagious," said Smith, a designated hitter. "But I think our pitching is underrated. It makes hitting a lot easier when you know there's no pressure."

Left-hander Bill Murphy (6-2) highlighted another solid pitching performance by Northridge, striking out nine and not allowing an earned run in seven innings.

Merrill Dunn and Alberto Flores each pitched a scoreless inning as Northridge held the Hornets (15-16) to seven hits.

"Our pitchers are just shutting people down right now," Stotts said. "That's always a plus when all you have to do is score four or five runs to win a ballgame."

Northridge has allowed 17 earned runs in the last seven games.

"Hopefully, we can do it for the rest of the year," Northridge Coach Mike Batesole said. "We have a long ways to go. But we're moving in the right direction."

Murphy worked out of bases-loaded jams in the second and third.

In the third, two errors and a hit batter led to the Hornets' only run when Murphy allowed a bases-loaded walk to Chris Kinsey. Murphy ended the inning with two consecutive strikeouts.

"Hopefully, each one of our starting pitchers will get to the seventh inning," Murphy said. "That's our job. We're underrated, but we kind of like it. It gives us something to strive for every single day."

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