Reality set in Tuesday for the Cal State Northridge baseball team.
Following a 4-2 loss at home to Cal Poly Pomona, it became painfully clear that there will be no miracle finish--or postseason play--for the Matadors in 1986.
The loss dropped Northridge to 16-21 overall, 9-12 in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. Pomona, 19-21 overall, is in first place in the CCAA with a 13-5 conference record.
With nine conference games remaining, the Matadors will be playing for little more than pride. But according to Coach Terry Craven, the objective is still the same.
“We had a long talk before the game about where we are in the season and what it means to have a goal at this point other than playing out the season and playing for yourself,” Craven said.
“The thing is, we still have to play the game hard and make things happen. We can’t at any point say we’re out of it--whether we are or not.”
Win or lose against Pomona, Northridge would have been hard-pressed to rally for a playoff berth. Only two teams from the West will be included in the 20-team NCAA Division II tournament, and there are no automatic berths.
Northridge didn’t help its own cause, however. A pair of misplayed ground balls in the fourth inning led to two unearned runs as the Matadors lost a grip on their already faint postseason hopes.
Trailing, 3-2, the Matadors last threatened in the sixth inning. John Balfanz reached base on an error to lead off the inning, but was thrown out as he returned to first when the field umpire ruled he had made move toward second base.
Craig Burns followed with a single, only to be thrown out when he slipped rounding first base.
Nine of the next 11 Northridge batters were retired as Pomona pitcher Mike Munoz won his fourth game in 11 decisions. Pomona added an insurance run in the seventh.
“A pair of momentum stoppers,” Craven said of the plays. “What can you do?”
Not much now.