Losing Becomes Habit for CS Northridge, 8-6

Times Staff Writer

There’s a lot of talk these days in the Cal State Northridge baseball program about losing. The Matadors have had what they consider to be more than their share of losses in recent weeks.

So there was really nothing surprising about CSUN’s 8-6 loss to UC Riverside on Tuesday at the Highlanders’ home field. It was as if everyone sort of expected it. Like in so many of the Matadors’ beatings of late, they could’ve won, but didn’t.

It’s getting to the point where coaches and players are talking about losing syndromes and mental attitudes.


CSUN assistant coach Dave Stabelfeldt knows all about the mental aspects of losing. He spent five years in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system.

“Losing can become a neurosis,” Stabelfeldt said before Tuesday’s game. “But when you lose a few games in a row, you start worrying about everything. You begin to analyze everything. It can be damaging.

“For us, I think it’s just a matter of getting that one base hit that could win a game for us.”

Against Riverside, the Matadors (12-17, 4-8 in conference) had a decent chance of winning. Even after blowing a 2-0 lead, they tied the Highlanders, 5-5, in the fifth inning when John Balfanz hit a two-run, two-out homer over the fence in left-center.

After falling behind, 8-5, when Highlander Mark Young homered in the sixth, the Matadors still had a chance to come back.

Balfanz opened the eighth with a walk. Craig Burns then singled. Jim Vatcher beat the throw at first after bunting. The bases were loaded with no outs.

Balfanz managed to score on a ground out by Scott McIntyre. But designated hitter Scott Stewart struck out and Tim Rapp flied to left.

End of rally. End of hopes.

Said CSUN Coach Terry Craven: “The kids are battling. If you’re not going well, then things come back to beat you. We had people in scoring position, but didn’t get them in. Our players are staying in there, but we’re in a losing syndrome.

“There’s no defense for home runs, except, of course, better pitchers.”

Craven said it with a weak chuckle, but he saw little humor in the situation.

Starting pitcher Dan Gonzalez gave up two homers.