Were Jeff Haas not an optimistic sort, he might have figured he was in for a long night--or a short one, depending on your point of view--after facing six Cal State Northridge batters Thursday night at Fresno State’s Beiden Field.
The Indiana State sophomore had given up four hits and two runs and another baserunner was in scoring position. Yet, as he stood on the mound, he maintained a positive outlook.
“Things weren’t going my way,” Haas said, “but I figured they would turn around. We’re a good team and we knew we were capable of doing a lot better.”
To that end, Haas took things into his own left hand. After giving up two more hits in the second inning, he shut down Northridge without a hit over the next six innings as the Sycamores upset the Matadors, 5-2, in the fourth round of the Fresno tournament.
It was Indiana State’s second consecutive tournament win after opening with two losses, and it stopped Northridge from automatically advancing to Saturday’s championship game.
Weather permitting, the Matadors (18-8-1) will play either Fresno State or Iowa State today at a time to be determined. With a victory, Northridge still would advance to the title game.
CSUN’s opponent was to be determined by the outcome of Fresno State’s late Thursday game against Virginia Tech, but that contest was halted by a downpour after only two pitches. The teams will try it again at 8 this morning.
Northridge, which was left droopy-eyed anyway by Haas’ mixture of outside sliders and inside fastballs, would perhaps have been better off with a similar fate.
Matador Coach Bill Kernen, whose team came in with a four-game winning streak, refused to blame the defeat on a letdown after consecutive wins over 16th-ranked North Carolina and 20th-ranked Creighton.
“I wasn’t disappointed with our effort,” Kernen said. “There just wasn’t much we could do. The guy just punched us out.”
Northridge’s only hit after the second inning was a single by Eric Johnson, who led off the ninth after a 30-minute rain delay. Haas responded by striking out Denny Vigo and Andy Hodgins, then getting Craig Clayton on a fly ball to right to end the game.
“They’re a good hitting team, and had this been a normal day for me, had I not been hitting my spots like I was, they might have hit me pretty hard,” said Haas, who came in with an 0-1 record and an earned-run average of 7.56. “It was my day today.”
Indiana State (5-4) scored single runs in the first and second innings, then took the lead for good with two more in the third off starter Marty Kilian.
For Kilian (1-2), it was an all-too-typical performance. Throughout his career, even during his 7-1 win over Arizona this season, he has struggled in the early innings.
Kilian walked eight and gave up six hits, and all but two of the walks and one of the hits came in the first three innings. He retired the side in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh before allowing another run in the eighth on two walks and a run-scoring single by Dave Doster, who had three hits.
The Matadors didn’t help themselves on defense, either, commiting three errors that led to a pair of unearned runs.
Kilian took the blame for that too. “When you don’t throw strikes, you don’t keep the tempo up and your infielders get on their heels instead of their toes,” he said. “It’s my job to keep them into it.”
If Fresno State defeats Virginia Tech this morning, Northridge will play Iowa State at 5 p.m. today. If Virginia Tech wins, the Matadors will meet Fresno State at 8 tonight. Craig Clayton (4-2) will be Northridge’s starting pitcher regardless of the opponent. . . . Clayton extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a pair of singles, but Scott Richardson was hitless in four at-bats, ending his streak at 11.