Although underclassmen dominate its roster, Cal State Northridge showed the maturity of a veteran team Friday.
The Matadors discovered how to win a baseball game without hitting a home run and that impressed Coach Bill Kernen.
Northridge collected nine hits--all singles--en route to an 8-2 win over Grand Canyon University at Matador Field.
The Matadors improved to 19-12 and extended their winning streak to seven games. Grand Canyon is 24-13.
“It was the best game we’ve played in a month, if not the best this year,” Kernen said. “We showed plate discipline.”
Grand Canyon starting pitcher Jeff Dennis (3-2) limited Northridge’s top home run hitters, Scott Sharts and Denny Vigo, to a single and a run batted in between them. Craig Clayton, the Matadors’ leading batter, was held to a run-scoring single.
Usually that would have been enough to beat Northridge. But neither Dennis nor three Antelope relievers could stop the Matadors from scoring runs in bunches.
The Matadors also received a strong performance from freshman left-hander John Bushart, who threw an eight-hitter for his second complete game. Bushart, from Thousand Oaks High, struck out eight and walked six.
Northridge started the scoring with three consecutive singles, including Clayton’s RBI hit, to lead off the third inning. Sharts also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Kyle Washington (three for three, two RBIs) had an RBI single in the fourth to give CSUN a 3-0 lead.
After Grand Canyon scored once in the sixth, Northridge rallied for two runs and a 5-1 lead in the bottom half of the inning.
In the seventh, the Matadors scored three runs on one base hit.
Scott Richardson, who has had two or more hits in his past six games, started the scoring with an RBI single.
“Their pitchers struck out the side, all looking,” Kernen said. “But in between we showed plate discipline. We fought off bad pitches and worked to get good ones. We used the tools to score runs without having to hit a home run.
“That shows we’re finally growing up.”