Northridge's Shepard Still Hot : College baseball: Senior outfielder drives in six runs to lead Matadors to their second straight 16-8 win over Wyoming.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Greg Shepard was running out of fingers. He had to use some of the digits on his glove hand, which might account for the confusion.

Shepard, a senior outfielder for Cal State Northridge, drove in six runs Sunday to key a 16-8 victory over Wyoming in a nonconference game at Northridge.

Shepard, the team's leadoff hitter, was four for four and scored twice. The runs-batted-in total, though, blurred somewhat in his memory. "Six? Is that all?" said Shepard, sounding somewhat disappointed at the news. "I thought it was seven. Oh well."

At the rate Shepard is rolling up numbers, folks will fast forgive his mathematics. For the record, Shepard leads the team in batting average (.420) and RBIs (26).

"That's why he's batting in that spot," said Coach Bill Kernen, whose Matadors also beat Wyoming, 16-8, Saturday. "He's there to get as many at-bats as possible."

Shepard's triple in the seventh helped seal the victory. Wyoming had stubbornly closed within 8-4 on a two-run homer by catcher Brian Wixom in the top of the inning, but the Matadors followed by sending 13 batters to the plate and scored eight times to deliver the knockout punch.

Shepard's triple drove in the first two runs of the seventh, and he later singled in the inning to drive home another.

If Northridge (14-2) can get its pitching squared around--the team will play nonconference night games against UCLA and Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday and Wednesday--the future could look bright indeed.

Kernen called the pitching in the weekend series with Wyoming "definitely the worst we've had," and it was hard to dispute the point. While the offense scored 44 runs in the three-game sweep, the pitching staff surrendered 22.

Right-hander John Najar (3-0) had a peaks-and-valleys performance. Making his first start since March 2, Najar was given an 8-0 lead through five innings. He yielded eight runs and nine hits over the final four innings, including two-run home runs to Wixom and Rick Paxton.

Wyoming (7-10) had a total of one homer entering the game. Najar allowed eight earned runs and 14 hits. He struck out six and walked two.

"We're definitely not closing the door," Kernen said. "I don't know if it's a conditioning thing or a mental thing or what. . . . It's not that we can't pitch with big leads. We can't seem to pitch with any kind of lead."

Over the past five games, Kernen's crew could have lobbed the ball over the plate underhanded and the offense probably would have countered.

The Matadors have racked up double-figure run totals in five straight games, scoring 67 runs in 42 innings.

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