Matadors Just Swinging in the Rain

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nine Rainbows dotted the baseball field at Cal State Northridge, but none broke through the rain that forced a Western Athletic Conference game to be suspended in the bottom of the fifth inning Tuesday.

The game between Hawaii and Northridge is scheduled to resume today at 11 a.m. with the Rainbows leading, 3-0. Two seven-inning games would follow, weather permitting.

The 30 or so professional scouts and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson who crouched under umbrellas with speed guns had ample time to evaluate Hawaii right-hander Mark Johnson.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3 junior who is one of the nation's top prospects, struck out seven of the first 10 batters and allowed only one hit.

Johnson's fastball was clocked in the 86 to 88 mph range despite a slick mound. Just as slick were the batter's boxes, causing the Matadors to slip and slide while trying to hit the All-American's pitches.

"It was like trying to hit on skates," said Kurt Airoso, Northridge center fielder.

The Matadors (21-5, 5-1 in WAC play) finally got a baserunner when Robert Fick extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a ground-ball single up the middle with two out in the fourth.

Fick stole second, his ninth of the season, and Jose Miranda followed with a walk, but Grant Hohman flew out to right field.

Hawaii (16-8, 3-2) gave Johnson a cushion in the second on a two-run home run by Greg Millichap.

The Rainbows added an unearned run in the fifth on a single by Jaime Ahu that scored Neal Honma, who singled and moved to second on a throwing error by Northridge pitcher Erasmo Ramirez.

The game was suspended after Airoso, who led off the fifth with a walk, aborted two steal attempts in a row because the ground around first base was too muddy.

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