There were more than a few instances Friday when Cal State Northridge pitcher John Bushart appeared one batter--even one pitch--away from an early exit in the Matadors 4-3, 13-inning nonconference victory over visiting Hartford.
But the junior left-hander managed to hang on each time but the last. When he finally took a seat, Bushart had 12 innings and 172 pitches behind him in a herculean performance that set the stage for a game-winning RBI single by Kyle Washington in the 13th.
"That was an awesome effort," Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said of Bushart's second start of the season. "(172 pitches) is too many. But he's coming in every time saying, (don't you dare take me out.")
With the score tied, 3-3, through 12 innings, Bushart finally called it quits and junior Tony Ljubetic (1-0) came on to pitch a scoreless 13th in his first Matador appearance.
Hartford reliever Kurt Grashaw (0-1), who seemed in total command after entering the game in the eighth, yielded a leadoff single to Northridge's Greg Shockey and then committed the key error of the game when his pickoff throw to first sailed over first baseman Bob Nenna and Shockey wound up at third with none out.
Facing a five-man infield that included Hartford center fielder Aaron Leonard, Washington lifted a deep fly ball to a vacant center field to score Shockey.
"What I was trying to do was just hit it in the air somewhere," said Washington, a junior outfielder who finished with two hits to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.
Bushart, who yielded eight hits and seven walks but struck out nine, struggled early when Hartford (0-2) used one hit and four walks to take a 3-0 lead in the third.
Northridge (11-5-1) closed the gap to 3-2 in the bottom of the third when Mike Solar followed a single by Scott Richardson with a towering homer to left. Solar, who leads CSUN with five homers, and Shockey led a nine-hit attack with two hits each. Richardson also extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Northridge tied the score in the eighth when Solar scored on a sacrifice fly by Andy Hodgins.
Bushart escaped a one-out jam with runners at second and third in the 11th when third baseman Denny Vigo made a diving backhand catch of a line drive by Leonard and Kevin Russell struck out.