With no seniors on the team and only one junior in the starting lineup, Cal State Los Angeles is supposed to be a year away from making an impact on the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. baseball race.
There are days, however, when the Golden Eagles play like the future is now.
Friday was one of those days, when CSLA rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to upset Cal State Northridge, 5-3, in a conference game played in Los Angeles.
CSLA Coach John Herbold hesitated to place too much significance on the victory.
"I wouldn't want to say it's a big win because it looks like it was an accident," he said.
"It's better termed a good win."
By any description, the victory was no accident. But a combination of Northridge mistakes and CSLA's good fortune did play a part.
Trailing 2-1, the Golden Eagles staged an unlikely rally in the eighth inning when the Matadors failed to convert a textbook double-play grounder, then turned a pitchout into a run-scoring passed ball that tied the game.
One out later, it got worse for Northridge. Joe Butler singled to give CSLA a 3-2 lead and Shaun Doyle, who had three hits, followed with a two-run home run.
The turn of events was not overlooked by Herbold. In his post-game address to the team, he said: "I want you to know that if they turn the double play, we lose."
The eighth inning was only an example of a Northridge breakdown. The Matadors failed to capitalize on numerous opportunties which could have given them the game.
"If you leave as many doors open as we did, without scoring runs when you should, these kind of things result," CSUN Coach Terry Craven said.
Northridge had 12 hits but grounded into five double plays and stranded nine runners.
Those numbers were reflected in the final inning, when the Matadors failed in their final chance to remain as the only undefeated team in CCAA play.
Catcher Scott McIntyre, who drove in all three Matadors runs, led off with his second solo home run. Scott Stewart followed with an infield single.
Second baseman Jimmy Mitchell then hit into a double play.
Next sequence, same inning:
Todd Mustin doubled to center field and shortstop Gary Williams drew a walk. Reliever Anthony Rico then struck out Chris Pinsak--representing the winning run--to end the game.
Double plays, stranded runners, missed opportunities and a conference loss for Northridge.
"We just sat back and waited for something to happen instead of making it happen for ourselves," McIntyre said. "I think we may have needed this to wake us up to the fact that we're not world beaters, but we can be good if everybody plays up to their potential."
The win gave both clubs records of 1-1 in the CCAA. CS Los Angeles is 6-13 overall. Northridge dropped to 6-7. Northridge travels to Cal Poly Pomona today for a noon doubleheader. . .Jeremy Hernandez (2-3) and Dan Gonzalez (1-2) are the scheduled starting pitchers.