BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Roadrunner baseball team jumped out to an early lead over BYU at Hardt Field to the tune of seven runs over the first three innings. Despite a late comeback attempt by the Cougars, CSU Bakersfield held on to take the series two games to one on Saturday.
“We certainly came out today with a chip on our shoulder ready to bounce back and play ‘Runner baseball,” said Jeremy Beard, Interim Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “We got out of our game last night. We had a lot of things not go our way and a lot of it was mental. Today, we really got our offense moving, making it tough on their pitcher. I think it forced him to give us better pitches to hit.”
The Roadrunners got out to an early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Junior transfer Mark Peña led off with a triple to the right center gap and was later plated on a sacrifice fly by senior David Metzgar. In the bottom of the second, a lead-off single by Ryan Grotjohn set the ‘Runners up to score another run off of small ball. With the senior leftfielder on third base, Cole Valetta’s sacrifice bunt put CSUB ahead 2-0 over BYU.
CSUB continued its scoring streak by putting up five runs in the bottom of the third. Peña opened the scoring, coming home on a wild pitch. After a pitching change, Mahlik Jones’ single through the right side plated Austyn Tengan before Max Carter drove in a run with a groundout. Grotjohn then tripled to the gap to bring Jones home before Valetta’s RBI single capped off the inning and put CSUB ahead 7-0.
In the top of the sixth, the Cougars finally got to starting pitcher Isaiah Moten. The sophomore righty loaded the bases with one out when Bronson Larsen lifted a deep fly ball to left field and scored Nate Favero to make the score 7-1, but Moten and the ‘Runners limited the damage to just one run.
In the top of the eighth, BYU added a pair of runs to cut the CSUB lead to just four runs. The Cougars kept the rally going in the final inning as junior Naithen Dewsnap came on to close out the game. BYU scored two more runs, but Dewsnap got the job done and preserved the 7-5 victory to give CSUB a 2-1 series win over BYU.
Moten, a native of Temecula, Calif., earned the win after pitching six innings while giving up just five hits, one walk, and one run to the Cougars. The sophomore righty also had great defensive plays behind him including a diving catch in the gap by Peña and a leaping grab at the fence by Valetta. Kenny Johnson pitched two innings in relief, allowing two runs, while Dewsnap gave up two runs in the ninth.
Offensively, the ‘Runners tallied 10 hits behind a pair each from Metzgar, Grotjohn, and shortstop Ryan Kono. Five ‘Runners drove in at least one RBI while Valetta’s two RBI led the team. Kono played well at shortstop, recording seven assists in the game, while CSUB tallied a pair of double plays.
Beard talked about the team’s upcoming road trip after the game: “We’re excited about leaving and going out and challenging ourselves on the road. The game doesn’t change no matter what yard you’re in. I think that’s going to be the key, just playing our game and sticking to what we know we have to do to be successful.”
The Roadrunners (8-3) have wrapped up their 11-game home stand and will set out on the road for the first time this season. Next week, CSU Bakersfield will play a midweek game at Cal Poly on Mar. 7 before a weekend series at Creighton, Mar. 10-12.