Having lost five of its past six California Collegiate Athletic Assn. games, the Cal State Northridge baseball team resorted to voodoo before practice earlier this week.
In an effort to get the proverbial monkey off their collective back, the Matador players burned a stuffed toy monkey, then buried the ashes behind home plate at Matador Field.
On Thursday, Northridge hitters ignited for 15 hits and pitcher Robert Wheatcroft doused a ninth-inning rally by UC Riverside to preserve a 7-6 victory in a CCAA game at the Riverside Sports Complex.
“We’ve had some weird things happen the last few games,” said Northridge Coach Bill Kernen, whose team fell from fifth to 16th in the NCAA Division II rankings this week. “Some pretty strange things, not just bad luck.
“Maybe it’s a psychological thing. Who knows what happens. But we came out today and had a lot breaks.”
With the victory, Northridge improved to 12-6 overall, 4-6 in conference play. Riverside dropped to 8-15, 4-6.
Wheatcroft (6-1), a senior right-hander, scattered 11 hits and struck out three in pitching his fourth complete game. Craig Clayton was four for five and scored two runs for Northridge while Greg Shockey and Randy Thompson each had three hits.
Northridge led, 7-5, in the seventh inning when Scott Einhorn hit a solo home run for Riverside to pull the Highlanders within a run.
Wheatcroft walked John Holmes then surrendered a single to Scott Einhorn to open the Riverside ninth. But Holmes was cut down at third on a sacrifice attempt by Jim Radler.
Wheatcroft then walked Jeff Goodale to load the bases before Logan Ostrander popped out to third and Mike Eatinger lined out to left.
Northridge will play host to Riverside at 2:30 this afternoon and conclude the series with the Highlanders on Saturday night at 7:30 at Riverside.