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Northridge Sweep Belongs to Bushart

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Northridge left-hander John Bushart was in the bullpen casually loosening up for the second game of Monday’s doubleheader when he did a double take.

Coach Bill Kernen was waving for him from the pitcher’s mound, and Marco Contreras, who baffled Cal State Sacramento for 8 2/3 innings of the first game, was heading for the dugout.

Bushart struck out Vince Beall with two runners on base to end the ninth and pitched a scoreless 10th before host CSUN won, 2-1, on a sacrifice fly by Mike Sims in the bottom of the inning.

Then Bushart really went to work, blanking Sacramento, 7-0, in a seven-inning second game for his first shutout at CSUN. It also marked the first time he has picked up two victories on one day.

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“It was a weird deal,” Bushart said. “I was surprised that Marco came out. But it worked out.”

That’s been the case every time Bushart (6-1) has pitched against Sacramento, the Western Athletic Conference leader. The junior from Thousand Oaks High has recorded all three CSUN victories this season against the Hornets (19-10, 6-3 in conference play).

With CSUN (19-6, 5-4) sinking slowly in the WAC, the sweep couldn’t have come at a better time. “Instead of being in a big hole, we are in a position to contend,” Kernen said.

Contreras and Sacramento ace Roland De La Maza pitched brilliantly in the first game. CSUN scored in the eighth on an RBI single by Andy Small, but Sacramento’s Gaylon Johnson hit the first pitch of the ninth over the left-field fence to tie the score.

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With the bases loaded and one out in the 10th, Sims lifted a fly ball to left that drove in Greg Shepard. Third baseman Erik Cooper cut off the throw, which appeared to have Shepard beat, and held the ball.

“I didn’t tell him to cut it,” catcher Tony Turnbull said.

CSUN gave Bushart a five-run cushion in the first inning of the second game against Ray Brown, who had pitched only 1 2/3 innings all season. “After facing De La Maza, our eyes kind of lit up when we saw (Brown),” Sims said.

Joey Arnold homered with one out to open the scoring.

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