Long Beach State reliever Geoff Hecht entered the game Tuesday with the bases loaded. In two-thirds of an inning, he hit two batters and threw a wild pitch to the backstop.
He was the winning pitcher.
What the Hecht. It was that kind of game.
"He got the win?" Long Beach catcher Casey Snow said. "Hmm. Good for him."
It was a good, if not great, day for Snow. The sophomore from Crespi High hit two home runs to lead 24th-ranked Long Beach to a 13-11 nonconference victory over Cal State Northridge at Matador Field.
Snow hadn't hit a homer in his college career before he ripped a grand slam in the first inning, the first this season by a Northridge opponent. He followed with a two-run shot in the fifth.
"This place is a little different from Blair Field," Snow said.
No question, Long Beach's capacious home park is Death Valley compared to the cozy confines of the Northridge yard, which is precisely why Long Beach scored six runs in the first inning yet had to keep scoring to win. Northridge is Flare Field, where it doesn't always take much of a poke to clear the fence.
Of course, Snow could have played at Northridge and hit lots of homers by now. Not like he didn't have the opportunity.
"I offered the guy the best scholarship of anybody I recruited since I've been here," Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said. "I was all over him. I really liked the guy."
Kernen had to like the comeback effort. Northridge kept applying the pressure and closed to within 8-5 in the fifth on a two-run homer by outfielder Jonathan Campbell, his fourth. Campbell and Snow apparently have the same bug. In three previous seasons, Campbell hit one homer.
After Jeff Liefer slammed a two-run homer in the sixth to extend Long Beach's lead to five runs, Northridge (16-12) scratched out five in the bottom of the inning. With two runs in and the bases loaded, Hecht (1-0) replaced Steve Hueston and hit Campbell in the rump to force in a run.
It was no fluke.
His next pitch hit Tyler Nelson in the backside to pare the lead to 10-9. For an encore, while facing Chad Thornhill, he threw a wild pitch to allow the tying run to score.
"The only real positive was that we never gave up," Kernen said. "Nobody panicked. Otherwise, though. . . ."
Long Beach (16-11-1) took an 11-10 lead in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Tim Falsken, a graduate of Westlake High.
Relievers Ethan Wykoff and Gabe Gonzalez allowed one run over the last three innings and Long Beach was able to hold on for the victory.
Gonzalez pitched the final two innings, allowing a run in the ninth, to earn his seventh save.
Northridge continued to suffer in the clutch. The Matadors stranded 11 baserunners, left the bases loaded twice and had a runner die at third base four times.
The Matadors have stranded 11 or more runners four times in five games.
"We've definitely got a serious problem hitting in the clutch," Kernen said. "It's getting to where I dread having the bases loaded. We can't do anything right in that situation."
Northridge designated hitter Andy Shaw has been named Western Athletic Conference West Division player of the week. Shaw, who attended Montclair Prep and College of the Canyons, went four for seven and drove in eight runs as Northridge swept three games from Hawaii last weekend. The junior leads Northridge with a .401 average, 10 doubles, eight home runs and 37 runs batted in (37). . . . Right-hander Zeke Barrios, suspended last week, still has been unable to run three miles in 21 minutes as required for pitchers by Coach Bill Kernen. Barrios, a junior right-hander, is 3-0 with an earned-run average of 4.50. "He probably would have won this game," Kernen said Tuesday.
Northridge plays a makeup game against UC Riverside, ranked 11th in NCAA Division II, tonight at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Sports Center.