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CSUN Gives Lesser Foes Equal Time : Matadors Club CLU in 15-4 Win

Times Staff Writer

The Cal State Northridge baseball team extended its winning streak to six games by beating Cal Lutheran, 15-4, at Matador Field on Thursday.

The outcome wouldn’t rank among the biggest surprises of the 20th century. While CSUN has demonstrated an ability to beat some of the bigger name teams in college baseball--including San Diego State and Arizona State in the current streak--the Matadors have no qualms about squashing some of college baseball’s midgets.

They beat Cal State Long Beach, 19-2. They rolled over The Master’s College, 27-4. On Thursday, it was the Kingsmen’s turn to get flattened.

“Terrible,” CLU first baseman Ed Howard said. “It was terrible out there. That’s the worst game we’ve played this season and you can’t play like that against a team like Northridge. No way.”

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Cal Lutheran stayed within reach for three innings, trailing, 4-1. From that point, though, the game should have been called on account of the fact that a lot of people couldn’t bear to watch. Including the coach.

“I don’t have too much positive to say,” CLU Coach Al Schoenberger said. “They hit the ball well and we didn’t do things right or well. I’m not pleased. It’s the technical aspects of the game that really get me.”

Especially galling to Schoenberger was his team’s four errors. CSUN scored its first run in the second inning after Craig Burns singled and Mark Hebert’s pop-up was dropped by CLU shortstop Dennis Mihelic, putting runners at first and third. Moments later, when Hebert broke toward second base, pitcher Chris Vanole froze for a second, then blooped a throw that sailed 10 feet over second baseman Mitch Ennis’ head and rolled dead in right-center field. Burns trotted home.

Northridge extended its lead and basically started batting practice when Jim Vatcher and Lenn Gilmore hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the third inning. Gilmore said Vanole “threw me a fastball and I was looking fastball all the way. They threw fastball-curve, fastball-curve the whole game. Their pitching wasn’t that good. And, uh, every one of our hitters is in a groove.”

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Added Vatcher: “It was probably a matter of time, but the two home runs were the turning point. We’re really hitting the ball right now.”

The Matadors collected 15 hits and scored their runs in batches. After the three-run third, they added two in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the sixth, one in the seventh and, for the grand finale, five in the eighth inning.

“This isn’t a traditional lineup,” CSUN Coach Terry Craven said. “From the top of the order on down, everybody can hit. We could interchange most of them. We’ve been living on well-hit balls. Vatcher, for example, hits a lot of home runs.”

Vatcher, Northridge’s lead-off hitter, has four home runs this season.

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Northridge starter Tony Estrada, who pitched five innings before being replaced by freshman Pablo Suarez, improved his record to 2-1. Suarez, who went to Chaminade Prep in Canoga Park, gave up one hit in two innings. John LaRosa then nailed down the Matadors’ ninth win in 13 games.

Vanole fell to 0-1 and the Kingsmen dropped to 2-3. Howard was a bright spot for Cal Lutheran. The 6-2, 220-pound first baseman hit a booming home run to left, his sixth this season, singled and scored two runs.

Still, none of that seemed to matter. “We just played bad,” he said in the dugout afterward. “We’re hoping to turn it around, but . . . “

Against Northridge, weathering the storm and surviving was the best any of the Kingsmen could hope for.

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CLU--Vanole, O’Neill (5), Lundin (7) and Wynn.

CSUN--Estrada, Suarez (6), LaRosa (8) and Muzzey.

WP--Estrada (2-1); LP--Vanole (0-1).


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