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CS Northridge Uncertain of Playoff Berth After 9-6 Loss

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The Cal State Northridge baseball team was looking forward to an opportunity to determine its postseason destiny.

But after the Matadors dropped a 9-6 decision to Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday in their final regularly scheduled California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game, they left their future, or lack of same, in the hands of a committee.

The loss at Dominguez Hills made unnecessary a makeup game between Northridge and conference-champion Cal Poly San Luis Obispo today. It also put the second-place Matadors in a tenuous position.

Today at 3 p.m., a six-member committee will conduct a conference call to choose the three teams that will participate in the NCAA Division II West regional, which will begin next Friday at a site to be determined.

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San Luis Obispo has earned the automatic bid into the regional by virtue of its CCAA title. Cal State Sacramento, an independent that has been ranked in the top 10 all season, is also considered a shoo-in.

That leaves the committee to decide between San Francisco State (30-20), which won the Northern California Athletic Conference, and Northridge (30-19-1).

“There’s no way in the world that anybody can put together an argument that says San Francisco State had a better year than Cal State Northridge,” Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said.

Kernen may be biased, but he is probably right.

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Northridge was 9-6 against Division I opponents, including wins over playoff-bound Fresno State, Pepperdine and USC. San Francisco State was 1-11 against Division I teams.

San Francisco State also played 13 games against Division III schools and members of the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics. Northridge played three games against Division III and NAIA schools.

The strength of the conferences also would seem to favor the Matadors. Unlike the CCAA, the NCAC champion does not receive an automatic bid into the regional.

“I think everybody understands that this is the most difficult (Division II) league in the country,” Kernen said of the CCAA. “It’s been proven year after year that champions come out of here.”

Indeed, the CCAA has placed two representatives in the regional several times, including 1984 when Northridge finished second in the conference standings behind Chapman, then went on to win the national championship.

Saturday against Dominguez Hills, right-hander Robert Wheatcroft (11-3) spotted the Toros nine runs in 2 2/3 innings before he was replaced by Dan Cory.

“I’m jinxed against that team,” said Wheatcroft, who was knocked out in the second inning the last time he faced Dominguez Hills. “I can’t do anything right against them.”

Meanwhile, Dominguez Hills pitchers David Haggard and Rick Davis did little wrong.

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Haggard, a senior right-hander, earned his first win in eight decisions by allowing two runs through five innings.

Davis, a senior right-hander making his first relief appearance, replaced Haggard in the sixth in an attempt to break the CCAA single-season strikeout record of 170 set in 1970 by Mike Wiley of Cal Poly Pomona.

Davis (7-7), needing six strikeouts to tie the record, struck out the side in the sixth and got two more in the eighth.

He then gave up four runs on four hits in the ninth before breaking the record by striking out Anton Siegl for the first out and Greg Shockey to end the game.

Dominguez Hills (16-29-2, 11-18-1 in conference play) scored three runs in the first inning on a bases-loaded triple by Vic Fresca, then scored six more runs in the third with help from Wheatcroft, who surrendered a two-out, run-scoring single to Lenny Hokanson, then walked in two runs before Robert Campbell drove in two more with a bases-loaded single.


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