Cal State Northridge right-hander Jason Cole stood on the mound, his eyes peering over his left shoulder, and watched as his second pitch sailed over the right-field fence.
Cole regrouped, focused on the next batter, then the next, and so on.
Eight innings later, he had all but wrapped up a 9-1 victory against Azusa Pacific on Saturday at Northridge.
After Gabriel Miranda’s homer, Cole (1-0) changed speeds brilliantly, allowing only four more hits, none after the fourth. Left-hander Brian Downing pitched the ninth.
Northridge improved to 5-0 and Azusa Pacific fell to 1-2.
Cole induced 12 groundouts, had three strikeouts without a walk, and allowed only three runners to advance past first base, none after the second inning.
“That’s pretty much getting the job done,” Matador Coach Mike Batesole said. “He was cruising.”
With the help of solid defense, including two double plays, Cole faced the minimum number of batters from the third through the eighth innings.
“I didn’t let the home run bother me,” Cole said. “I just stayed tuned for the whole game.”
Cole delivered only 81 pitches. He threw first-strike pitches to 19 of 29 batters and did not throw more than six pitches to any batter. He needed only four pitches to retire the side in the fourth inning and five pitches in the sixth and eighth innings.
Adam Kennedy, who had three hits, had his four-game home run streak snapped, but he wasn’t complaining. He would have hit for the cycle with a home run.
"[The cycle] would have been fun, but I wasn’t really thinking about it,” he said.
Third baseman Jose Miranda had two hits and three runs batted in, including a two-run home run, his third of the season, matching his total of last year.
Sophomore outfielder Ryan Hurd also homered for the Matadors, his second. Terrmel Sledge, a redshirt freshman from Kennedy High, was three for three with an RBI.
After beating an NCAA Division II school and two NAIA schools after defeating Cal State Fullerton last Tuesday, the Matadors (5-0) face Division I opponents UC Santa Barbara and UCLA on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Kennedy’s infield single to lead off the first inning marked the fourth consecutive game he has led off with a hit. Kennedy’s three hits bring his season total to a team-high 11. Nine of those are for extra bases . . . Miranda increased his team-leading batting average to .625 (10 for 16). . . . Northridge has 16 home runs, an average of more than three a game.