MESA, Ariz.—CSU Bakersfield defeated Northern Colorado 8-5 in the consolation bracket final of the Western Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament Saturday afternoon.
Northern Colorado (24-30) starter Troy Watson was one over the minimum entering the top of the fourth. Andrew Penner led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. David Metzgar broke the seal with a single to left to plate Penner. Down 0-2 in the count, Ryan Grotjohn singled up the middle with Metzgar in motion. The base hit advanced Metzgar to third.
Mahlik Jones recorded the fourth straight single of the inning to drive in Metzgar as Grotjohn went to third. Jones stole second to put a second runner in scoring position. Watson struck out Max Carter to reach Sergio Robles in the CSUB line up. Robles popped up to Brett Minnick at first but Minnick dropped the ball in the sun, allowing Grotjohn to score. Robles stole second before Mark Pena popped out to second. Junior Felix grounded out to third to end the inning.
CSUB starter Isaiah Moten retired the first nine Bears he faced before giving up a Nick Tanner single to lead off the Northern Colorado fourth. With one out, Jack Pauley doubled Tanner to third. Cole Maltese's single drove in Tanner as Pauley went to third. CSUB attempted the hidden ball trick, but Moten was inside the pitcher's circle. A balk was called on Moten, which allowed Pauley to score. Robles dropped a Brett Minnick fly ball to put runners on first and second. Robles caught an Evan Johnson fly ball, but the ball was deep enough for Maltese to advance to third. Dean Lawson grounded out to second for the final out.
CSUB loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth. Lawson committed an error that allowed two runs to score. With runners on second and third, Robles singled up the middle to drive in two runs.
Dan Reese, a .154 hitter coming into the game, hit his first home run of the season to begin the Bears' fifth. Tyler Yamaguchi followed with a double down the left field line. Tanner successfully sacrificed Yamaguchi to third with a bunt. Alex Kiel walked to bring up Pauley, the three batter in the Northern Colorado lineup. Pauley swung at a high Moten fastball and fouled out to third. Maltese singled through the left side to drive in Yamaguchi. Moten went back to a high fastball and struck out Minnick on a 2-2 count to finish the fifth.
With one out in the sixth, Ortega singled. A Maltese error on a Penner ground ball at second kept CSUB out of the double play and allowed both runners to reach safely. Metzgar grounded into a 6-4 fielder's choice. With runners on first and third, Grotjohn would ground out to second for the final out.
Lawson doubled to right center with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Resse hit a deep shot to left that Penner caught for the second out. Down 0-2 in the count, Yamaguchi drove in Lawson with a single up the middle. Tanner walked on five pitches. Kenny Johnson replaced Moten to face Kiel. After falling behind 2-0 in the count, Johnson battled back to 2-2 before using a fastball up in the zone that Kiel chased, striking out to end the frame.
CSUB opened the seventh with back-to-back singles from Jones and Carter. Dylan Shiraki entered. He took on Robles. Robles' grounder to Yamaguchi to short took the Bears' shortstop toward third where he threw to for the first out. Pena grounded into a 4-6 fielder's choice for the second out. Felix popped out to Yamaguchi to conclude the inning.
Robles doubled in Carter with two outs in the top of the ninth to create a three-run cushion. CSUB would load the bases later in the inning, but Connor Leedholm, the fourth UNC pitcher of the game, struck out Ortega to keep it an 8-5 game.
Johnson retired seven in row before giving way to Roadrunner closer Naithen Dewsnap in the bottom of the ninth. Dewsnap got Yamaguchi to ground out to second for out No. 1. Tanner flew out to left center for the second out. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Kiel worked out a walk to bring up Pauley. Pinch runner Sam Leach took second on defensive indifference. Dewnsap went up 1-2 in the count against Pauley before earning the strikeout to end the game.
Carter, Jones, Metzgar, Penner, and, Robles, combined for nine of the 13 Roadrunner (three for Jones, two for the others). Robles drove in three runs. Penner and Grotjohn both scored two runs. Maltese and Yamaguchi both recorded two hits for Northern Colorado. CSUB left eight on base, compared to six for the Bears.
CSUB faced Sacramento State at 7:20 p.m. Saturday night in the first WAC Championship game. The Roadrunners improved to 32-23.