Northridge Gravely Rallies for 3-2 Victory : Baseball: Aided by three errors, Matadors score two runs in the eighth to beat Cal State L.A. in nonconference game.


It was graveyard, dead-of-winter quiet.

For two hours on Wednesday, Cal State Northridge made no sound whatsoever.

Perhaps it was a lull after last weekend's trip to Texas A&M;, where fans reputedly are as vocal and abrasive as any in the land.

"It was so noisy back there," pitcher Carlos Velazco said. "Here, it was kinda dead."

Northridge woke up before rigor mortis set in and scratched out a 3-2 nonconference victory over Cal State Los Angeles before 67 subdued fans at Matador Field.

Northridge (13-8) rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead when the Golden Eagles (7-12) committed three errors to undermine the efforts of senior right-hander Curtis Jung.

Northridge had eight hits but didn't score an earned run off Jung (0-1), a Glendale High graduate.

"We had just enough," Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said. "They helped us out a bit, too."

Assistance was gratefully accepted. Despite the paucity of offense, the Matadors stayed in striking range because of some head-scratching moves on the basepaths by Cal State L.A.

Cal State L.A. held a 1-0 lead in the fifth and had runners at first and second with two out when the curiosities began. Velazco had already given up three hits in the inning, including a solo home run.

Nonetheless, Northridge catcher Eric Gillespie shot down George Quinn at third on a double-steal attempt to end the threat.

In the eighth, with runners at first and second and Cal State L.A. holding a 2-1 lead, Northridge reliever Aaron D'Aoust bounced a pitch in the dirt.

Gillespie blocked the ball and threw late to third, but Jason Shananan fired to second to nail the slow-footed trail runner, Brian Chwan, for the third out.

Earlier, after opening the inning with a single, Fidencio Madero was tossed out by Gillespie at second on a steal attempt.

"I wasn't throwing that well between innings," Gillespie said, grinning. "Maybe I deked them."

Velazco fooled some people, too. In his first 17 1/3 innings, the freshman right-hander from Sylmar High walked 17 batters. Coaches spent the past couple of weeks tinkering with his mechanics.

"I was trying to hump it up there too much," Velazco said. "I was trying to put a lot extra, not a little, on the ball every time I threw it. Today, there was a noticeable difference."

Velazco didn't give up a hit over the first four innings. He gave up two runs on four hits, struck out two and didn't walk a batter in 5 1/3 innings before leaving because of a cramp in his right forearm.

D'Aoust pitched 3 2/3 innings and waited for the offense to kick in.

Instead, Cal State L.A. kicked everything that came its way.

The Golden Eagles held a 2-1 lead in the eighth when everything unraveled defensively.

Steve Moreno cashed in one error with a two-out single to right to tie the score. Robert Fick, running for Moreno, then broke for second on a steal and Gillespie slapped the ball through the vacated hole at second.

Center fielder Bobby Harmon bobbled the ball in the gap in right-center, allowing Fick to score the go-ahead run.

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