Northridge Saves Best for Last, 4-2 : College baseball: Matadors score three times in their final at-bat to beat Wyoming in the Fresno tournament.


For seven innings Tuesday, the Cal State Northridge baseball team wasted virtually every opportunity.

Ten runners reached base and nine were left there. The only exception was Andy Hodgins, who had no choice but to round the bases after his leadoff home run in the sixth.

But the Matadors made the most of their final at-bat, scoring three times to post a 4-2 win over Wyoming in the second round of round-robin play in the Fresno tournament.

"You just never know when your most important at-bat is going to be," said Mike Sims, whose eighth-inning single drove in the winning run. "Today it was the last one."

Trailing, 2-1, Northridge (13-5-1) parlayed four hits, two walks and a wild pitch into three eighth-inning runs off starter Mike Shultis and two relievers.

It was Northridge's second tournament win in as many days, but the Matadors have yet to play well. In Monday's 10-7 win over Nevada, Northridge committed five errors. Against Wyoming (11-9), the miscues came on offense.

"I'm not real excited about this game," Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said. "Defensively we were better, and we had good pitching. But offensively we were terrible."

Until the eighth, the Matadors stranded seven runners in scoring position. And, had Denny Vigo's slump continued, Northridge might have left a few more.

Hodgins led off the inning with a double to right-center field, his third hit. One out later, Greg Shepard beat out an infield single for his third hit. That moved Hodgins to third and brought up Vigo, who had one hit in his previous 38 at-bats.

Moreover, Vigo was batting less than .150 with runners in scoring position. But this time he came through, swatting a single to right that scored Hodgins with the tying run.

Sims then followed with his second hit, a single to right-center that drove in Shepard with the go-ahead run. Scott Richardson walked to load the bases and, after an out, Greg Shockey also walked, forcing in Vigo.

"It felt good to finally do something to help us," Vigo said. "I've been going through a rough period."

For seven innings, so were the rest of the Matadors--Hodgins and pitcher Kevin Kloek being the exceptions.

Kloek (4-1) finished with a seven-hitter, striking out six. He walked two but allowed only one earned run.

Though he bobbed and weaved some in the late innings, Kloek delivered a knockout blow in the ninth, punching out the Cowboys in order.

"It wasn't easy for them today," Kloek said, referring to Matador hitters. "After they finally did the job, I wanted to make sure they got rewarded."

Northridge left runners on base in five of the first six innings, stranding at least one in scoring position each time.

Richardson, who extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a first-inning double, left the bases loaded in the fifth and stranded two more runners in the seventh despite hitting the ball hard both times.

In the fifth, he drove a ball to right that George Baker hauled in just in front of the warning track and in the seventh, Richardson hit a one-hopper at third baseman Ed Crippen, who turned it into a force play.

However, most of that frustration was forgotten after Northridge sent nine players to the plate in the eighth.

Wyoming Coach Bill Kinneberg might have unwittingly contributed to the Matadors' rally. After Hodgins doubled to lead off the eighth, Kinneberg replaced Shultis with Mike Moses, his bullpen stopper.

Moses (1-1) is a left-hander, and Northridge had Scott Mowl and Shepard, both left-handed hitters, due up. But after striking out pinch-hitter Chris Olsen, Moses couldn't stop anyone. He lasted only five batters, giving up consecutive singles to Shepard, Vigo and Sims before walking Richardson.

Northridge, the tournament runner-up a year ago, continues round-robin tournament play today at 4 p.m. against Creighton in a rematch of last season's tournament championship game.

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