A slew of tobacco-spewing scouts turned out to watch Cal State Northridge junior right-hander Jeremy Hernandez make his season debut against Pepperdine on Friday, and five even brought along their Juggs radar guns to check out the howitzer on Hernandez.
But Hernandez, the Matadors’ top pitcher last season with a mark of 6-6 and an ERA of 2.56, wasn’t quite up to snuff. As a result, none of the guns--Hernandez’s arm or the mechanical ones--were around for very long.
Pepperdine hitters rocked Hernandez for 7 runs and 11 hits, including three home runs, in 6 innings as Pepperdine beat CSUN, 7-5, in a non-conference game at Matador Field.
By the time Hernandez was driven to the dugout, most of the scouts were already driving toward the freeway.
“I don’t really expect anyone to be in mid-season form this early in the season,” CSUN Coach Terry Craven said of Hernandez. “Sometimes a pitcher gets the hitter, and sometimes the batter gets him.”
What Pepperdine got was plenty of offense, and early. Leadoff hitter Steve Kirkpatrick ripped Hernandez’s second pitch of the game over the right-field wall, and the Waves added another run in the first on designated-hitter Ruben Gonzalez’s RBI single.
Gonzalez added a two-run homer in the top of the third to give Pepperdine a brief 4-1 lead, but the Waves’ defense collapsed in the bottom of the inning.
CSUN (1-2) scored four unearned runs off Wave right-hander Steve Scanlon as Pepperdine (2-0) committed five errors and handed CSUN a 5-4 lead. After Jim Vatcher was safe on shortstop Paul Faries’ error, left fielder Lenny Gilmore singled him to third. Vatcher scored when Wave catcher Pete Kuld--a junior transfer from College of the Canyons--overthrew second while trying to throw out Gilmore on a steal attempt. Gilmore scored when Pepperdine right fielder Rick Hirtensteiner kicked a base hit by John Balfanz.
Chris Pinsak followed with a single. Balfanz scored on third baseman Tim Rapp’s two-run single to center.
The CSUN lead lasted two innings. Hirtensteiner put the hurt on the Matadors in the fifth, hitting an opposite-field home run to give Pepperdine the victory.
Pepperdine left-hander Doug Simons blanked the Matadors over the final five innings, surrendering just two hits, to earn the win. Right-hander John LaRosa pitched 2 innings of scoreless relief for CSUN.