RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A come-from-behind win and a 10-inning pitchers’ duel resulted in a doubleheader sweep for the Roadrunner softball team on Wednesday. CSU Bakersfield overcame and outlasted UC Riverside on the road as the ‘Runners gained some much needed momentum headed into a tough conference weekend.
“The team played well,” said Crissy Buck-Ziegler, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “Kaylynn Burt had two good games, offensively and defensively. It was great to see our pitchers step up and get the wins.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, the ‘Runners found themselves down 2-0. but quickly responded with a four-run inning and held on for the win. In Game 2, both teams' starting pitchers went to work and CSUB’s Summer Evans endured for a 10-inning, complete-game victory over the Highlanders.
After the first three innings were dominated by solid pitching performances by CSUB’s Lyndsay Klimenko and UCR’s Haley Marschall, the Highlanders broke through first to take a 2-0 lead over the ‘Runners. With a pair of runners in scoring position, left fielder Rebecca Faulkner singled to drive both runs in and give UCR the lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Back-to-back walks by juniors Julea Cavazos and Nicole Curry led off the top of the fifth and gave CSUB a great scoring opportunity. A sacrifice bunt by Megan Marcy moved the pair into scoring position before Selena Gonzalez walked to load the bases with one out. A ground ball to third should have resulted in an out at home, but an errant throw allowed Cavazos and pinch runner Ebony Harrison to score. Kaylynn Burt followed that up with a two-RBI single as the ‘Runners took a 4-2 lead.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Burt drew a walk and stole her second bag of the game to move to second base. The junior outfielder now has 15 steals on the season, tying CSUB’s Division I single-season record (Alex Simmons, 2016). Burt went on to score thanks to Nadia Amezcua’s single and a fielding error on the play at home by UCR’s catcher. The play gave CSUB one more insurance run, but the ‘Runners would not need it.
Klimenko came back out to pitch the bottom of the seventh and closed out her second victory of the season in her seventh complete game. The senior righty sat the UC Riverside side down in order and retired 10 of the last 11 Highlanders (one walk) to seal the win.
Burt led the ‘Runners from the plate, going 1-for-3 with a walk, two steals and two RBI. Amezcua had the only other hit in the contest for CSUB while adding a walk. Free bases were the kryptonite for UCR in the first game as the ‘Runners reached base on five walks and a hit by pitch.
The ‘Runners got the bats going in the second game of the doubleheader. CSUB had a total of four hits over the first four innings, but the ‘Runners were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. Over the first six innings, CSUB’s Summer Evans limited the Highlanders to just two hits with no walks. After seven complete innings of scoreless softball, the two teams headed to extras.
The bottom of the eighth inning seemed like the opportunity for the Highlanders to put the game away. UCR got back-to-back two-out singles and had a runner in scoring position. UCR’s Jenae Lockwood lined a ball down the right field line, but Amezcua tracked it down to keep the game scoreless.
With the international tiebreaker in effect for the first time in the game, Cavazos was placed on second base to start the ninth. Chris Hipa’s grounder to the right side helped her teammate advance to third and set freshman Jocelyn Betancourt up for the biggest moment of her young career. After recording her first collegiate hit earlier in the game, Betancourt singled again and drove in Cavazos to put the ‘Runners ahead 1-0.
CSUB was not done as Curry and Marcy made it three straight singles, loading the bases with just one out. Freshman Karah Wiseman grounded out to short, but the Highlanders traded an out for a run as Wiseman’s RBI gave the ‘Runners a 2-0 lead. The extra insurance run turned out to be crucial as Riverside’s Faulkner hit a two-run home run to tie the score in the bottom half of the frame.
Unfazed by the setback, the ‘Runners pressed on and moved freshman Cydney Curran to third with two outs in the top of the tenth. Cavazos came up clutch and delivered a double down the left field line to put the ‘Runners ahead 3-2.
Evans came back out to pitch the 10th and final inning. Tense times arose as the junior righty moved the placed runner to third on a wild pitch with only one out, but Evans induced back-to-back groundouts to end the game. As it did all day, the CSUB defense backed up its pitcher in Game 2. Marcy and Hipa combined for 11 assists in the contest while Curry tallied a total of 24 put outs at first base on the day. Evans improved to 6-12 on the year as she scattered six hits over 10 innings and did not walk a single batter.
After going 2-for-5 in the second game, Burt wound up 3-for-8 on the day with a pair of RBI and a walk. Betancourt was 2-for-4 in Game 2 with an RBI while Curry and Marcy both had a pair of hits on the day.
Wednesday’s 10-inning game was the longest for the ‘Runners since 2013 when CSUB fell in 10 innings to Saint Mary’s. In fact, the contest was the first in CSUB’s NCAA Division I history that went 10 or more innings in which the ‘Runners came out victorious (0-5 previously).
The Roadrunners (8-28, 1-8 WAC) will return home to prepare for their final home series of the season. CSU Bakersfield will host New Mexico State, Apr. 21-22, in a three-game Western Athletic Conference series at the Roadrunner Softball Complex.