Northridge Roughs Up Chapman Again in 10-2 Win : College baseball: Second-place Matadors extend lead over the Panthers to two games.


Cal State Northridge's baseball team suffered a few more bumps and bruises Friday, but its opponent took a real beating.

Pitcher Vale Lopez threw a three-hitter and the Matadors pounded out 13 hits to score a 10-2 decision over Chapman in a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game at Matador Field.

The Matadors, who improved to 27-15, 14-6 in conference play, took a two-game lead over the Panthers (23-18, 13-9) in their fight for second place and an at-large berth in the Western regional playoffs. UC Riverside leads the conference at 15-4.

Northridge can open a three-game lead over the Panthers with a win today at Chapman. The Matadors are 4-0 against Chapman.

"This will be the biggest one of the series," Cal State Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said. "It's worth two games in the standings and it's difficult to sweep a five-game series. It's not like it will win or lose a championship. But we would like to go into the next series against UC Riverside with a four-game gap (in the loss column)."

But the Matadors suffered a little despite the score.

In the second inning, Greg Shockey crashed into the center-field wall to catch a fly ball and had the wind knocked out of him. Five pitches later, Jody Garcia lined a ball off Lopez's right ankle and was thrown out at first by Denny Vigo. Lopez overcame the bruise to strike out Chris Cutliff to retire the side.

After scoring four runs in the 12th inning of Thursday's 5-2 victory over Chapman, the Matadors scored eight runs in the first four innings Friday.

Vigo had a two-run double to highlight a three-run first inning and also hit a home run in the sixth, his 15th. He trails teammate Scott Sharts by two home runs in what has become a race to break the school single-season record of 24, set by Rondal Rollin in 1980.

Craig Clayton, who pitched 12 innings Thursday despite arm cramps, played left field and had three hits to raise his batting average to .401. His three-run double in the third gave Northridge a 7-0 lead.

Eric Johnson, who jammed his right wrist making a tag at first base Thursday, had a run-scoring single in the fourth.

Lopez (7-4) had little trouble keeping Chapman off-balance, mixing his off-speed pitches with an inside fastball. He retired the first nine batters.

"I faced a lot of these guys before and they know how to hit my breaking ball," Lopez said. "I had to try something different, so I was coming in more often. They didn't take any good hacks."

Lopez, the Matadors' only senior, had seven strikeouts and three walks. His only mistake was a hanging curve that Doug Yates hit for a two-run home run in the fourth.

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