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Northridge Upstages USC in a Sideshow, 4-2

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The parking lots that surround Dedeaux Field on the USC campus were jammed Wednesday night.

Limousines, hundreds of them, lined up side by side awaiting Academy Awards-goers who would be exiting from the nearby Shrine Auditorium.

While the awards show unfolded down the street, many members of the tuxedo-clad chauffeur force lined the edge of the three-story parking structure beyond right field and watched Northridge pitcher Fili Martinez drive USC batters batty during Northridge’s 4-2 nonconference victory over the Trojans.

Northridge improved to 14-9-1 overall while USC, ranked ninth in Division I by Baseball America, is 26-12.

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Martinez (2-3), a senior left-hander who has been victimized by bad luck for much of the season, pitched a complete game, scattering five hits and striking out seven.

“I was trying to be too fine,” said Martinez, who walked five. “So I just tried to let it go and it worked out great.”

CSUN scored two runs in the second inning when Rusty McLain scored from third on a passed ball and Greg Shockey drove in Denny Vigo with a ground out to first.

The Matadors went ahead, 3-0, in the third inning on Chae-Ho Chong’s sacrifice fly to center field that drove in Mike Solar.

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USC scored a run in the third on a passed ball and in the sixth when Martinez hit Kevin Farlow with a pitch with the bases loaded.

McLain, a senior, hit his second home run of the season in the sixth inning, a solo shot over the left-field wall that provided the final margin of victory.

“The team is maturing with the seniors leading the way a little bit,” McLain said. “Everybody is helping each other out.”

Despite the clutch performances by seniors such as Martinez and McLain, the key, but wholly unspectacular play of the game, was turned in by freshman center fielder Shockey in the eighth.

Trailing, 4-2, USC had runners on first and second after Martinez issued consecutive walks to Corey Aurand and Bret Boone to lead off the inning.

Brett Jenkins followed with a fly ball to center that Shockey caught for an out while the runners tagged.

Early in the season, Shockey might have thrown to third base. This time, he threw to second to keep the double play in order and ended up nailing Boone to complete a double play, stalling a Trojan threat that Martinez ended by striking out Mark Smith.

Shockey’s decision showed a sign of maturity that pleased Northridge Coach Bill Kernen as much as the victory itself.

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“It’s the type of play that never shows up in the box score,” Kernen said. “But it was key tonight.

“That’s a step for the program that means something to me.”


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