COLLEGE BASEBALL / NCAA MIDWEST REGIONAL : Northridge Hitched to Post Early

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Had it been only a bad dream, David Eggert might have clicked his cleats and, poof, he wouldn't be in Kansas anymore.

No such luck.

As it was, his one and only inning against Oklahoma State on Saturday in second-round action of the NCAA Midwest Regional was a bona fide nightmare.

Eggert faced nine Cowboys in the first inning and got, well, roped.

Six hits, including three for extra bases, resulted in four runs and the Big Eight Conference champions coasted to a 5-0 victory before 4,147 at Eck Stadium-Tyler Field.

As a result, Northridge (38-15-1) faces an uphill climb to the College World Series in Omaha. The Matadors will play Minnesota (41-20) today at 1:30 p.m.

The loser goes home. And the winner faces yet another game Sunday, at 5:30, in which it must win to stave off elimination.

Therefore, Eggert, who averaged 8 2/3 innings in his previous eight starts, is in line to get another chance to pitch, possibly as soon as today. "I hope so," he said. "I want to come back."

So, too, did the Matadors against Oklahoma State. And right-hander Kevin Kloek, who started the second inning for Northridge, provided the chance.

He struck out 11 and allowed only five hits over the final eight innings.

But the Matadors could not put a dent in Brad Gore, the ace of the Cowboy pitching staff.

Gore hogtied Northridge on only seven hits, striking out nine and walking only two to improve to 11-2.

Northridge Coach Bill Kernen lauded Gore's performance but added, "Of course, you don't appreciate it as much when it's pitched against you."

The Matadors had a couple of opportunities to score but each time Gore ended the threat with a strikeout.

In the bottom of the first, after Greg Shockey singled and Scott Mowl doubled, Gore struck out Mike Solar. In the sixth, with Greg Shepard on third and Solar on first, Gore struck out Andy Hodgins.

"We lacked the timely hit, and against a guy like that you're only going to get a few chances," Kernen said. "You have to take advantage of every one.

"We tried all kinds of adjustments, but he just spun one on us."

Gore, a junior, is 6-0 with a no decision in his past seven starts. He also has a proven track record. He is undefeated in three regional appearances.

Kloek was nearly as impressive, albeit it a bit too late. Oklahoma State scored only one run against him and that was unearned.

Conversely, Eggert, a senior left-hander, knew he was in trouble as he warmed up in the bullpen.

"I didn't have anything," he said. "The performance speaks for itself. I didn't have any zing on my fastball and I didn't have as sharp of a curve."

It was a fastball, one up and over the middle of the plate, that Ernesto Rivera hit up the right-center field gap to begin the game.

After Rivera scored on a groundout, Ritchie Moody and Lou Lucca lined consecutive doubles down the left-field line and it was 2-0.

Manny Gagliano followed with a single to right and Jason Heath laid down a bunt for a hit, with a single by Fredy Ocasio and another groundout making it 4-0.

For Oklahoma State, with Gore pitching and the wind blowing in from left, it might as well have been a 10-run lead.

Gore said he was able to relax and "just go right at people." Northridge did not manage two hits in an inning after the first.

After winning his first seven decisions, Eggert has dropped three of his past four.

Oklahoma State (48-14) and Wichita State (54-9), each 2-0 in regional play, will meet at 10:30 today with the winner advancing to Monday's championship game. The loser faces the winner of the Northridge-Minnesota game.

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