This may come as surprising news to anyone who has visited the raisin capital of the world, but the Cal State Northridge baseball team would rather be in Fresno than sunny Southern California.
Although Fresno can be about as exciting as melting ice, it was the site of the Matadors best game this season, a 4-2 victory Wednesday over Fresno State, ranked 12th in the nation by Collegiate Baseball magazine.
And Southern California is the site of one of the Matadors’ worst games this season--a 4-3, 10-inning victory over Cal State Los Angeles in a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game Friday at CSUN.
“That was the worst game we’ve played in a long time,” Coach Bill Kernen said. “We did everything we could do to self destruct.”
But didn’t the Matadors win?
“We dodged a bullet,” Kernen said.
CSUN loaded the bases in the 10th inning and, with one out, Ted Weisfuss hit a line drive to Golden Eagles shortstop Brent Bish. Playing on the edge of the infield grass, Bish dove and stopped the ball on a bounce.
But his throw to the plate was wide and CSLA catcher William Silvan was unable to make the catch, allowing Denny Vigo to score the winning run. The error was CSLA’s sixth in the game.
“We feel a little fortunate to get away with this win,” said CSUN pitcher Robert Wheatcroft, who went the distance for the victory.
Wheatcroft, who pitched a 12-inning victory Saturday over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in his last start, felt fortunate just to get out of the second inning. The Golden Eagles (17-22 overall, 7-9 in conference play) scored three runs on four hits and two walks in the first two innings and could have easily scored more.
“I felt horrible,” Wheatcroft said. “I felt tired and weak.”
With one out in the first, Dave Adams singled, advanced to second on a walk, stole third and scored on Martin Tourville’s single.
Brad Mengel led off the second inning with a single and a stolen base. After another walk, Bish, the Eagles’ No. 9 hitter, hit a chopper that bounced over first baseman Anton Siegl’s head and into right field, scoring Mengel.
Wheatcroft almost escaped the inning without giving up another run when he struck out the next two batters and got Rex De La Nuez to hit a sharp grounder to third. But the ball ricocheted off Vigo’s chest, allowing another runner to score.
Even though Wheatcroft was struggling, Kernen never considered removing the senior right-hander. “I never had any doubts,” Kernen said. “They did some things and got some runs but it wasn’t because he didn’t have his stuff or wasn’t on.”
The Matadors (20-11, 9-7-1) chipped away at the 3-0 deficit, scoring solo runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings. Rusty McLain hit his third home run of the season in the second and Vigo singled in Chae-Ho Chong in the fourth.