Bill Kernen was named Bakersfield’s first head coach on May 17, 2007, and will begin his seventh season as head coach in 2015.
The Roadrunners posted a 26-33 record in 2014, finishing fifth in the Western Athletic Conference. The ‘Runners rallied in the WAC Tournament, winning two games and advancing into the winner’s bracket semifinals before finishing third in the tournament. Three Bakersfield players were named All-Conference. Upon the conclusion of the season, two players Austin Davis (12th round, Phillies) and Taylor Aikenhead (32nd round, Padres) were taken in the MLB Draft. A third player, Oscar Sanay was signed as free agent by the Tampa Bay Rays.
In the program’s first season in the WAC in 2013, Kernen was named WAC Coach of the Year after leading the ‘Runners to a share of the regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament. The Roadrunners won a school record 37 games (37-22). Jeff McKenzie was selected third team All-American and the WAC Pitcher of the Year. Tyler Shryock was chosen WAC Player of the Year.
A total of six Bakersfield players were named All-Conference with Oscar Sanay being named to the All-WAC Tournament team. A school record five players were taken in the Major League Baseball Draft.
In 2012, the Roadrunners had to replace its entire starting rotation and went 25-30. Five players were selected to the CollegeSportsMadness.com All-Independent team with McKenzie being selected as CSM’s Independent Pitcher of the Year.
Year three under Kernen saw the ‘Runners defeat the defending national champion South Carolina and four other nationally ranked opponents (No. 10 Arizona State, No. 13 UCLA, No. 17 UC Irvine, and No. 19 Fresno State). The program earned its first national ranking after posting a 10-game winning streak in March 2011.
After finishing 33-22, four Bakersfield players; Ryan McIntyre (Marlins, 12th round), Mike McCarthy (Red Sox, 14th round), Jeremy Rodriguez (Padres, 16th round), and Martin Medina (White Sox, 20th round) were taken in the MLB draft.
Kernen’s inaugural season with the Roadrunners was filled with firsts, but none carried the same significance outside of the CSUB program than being the first NCAA Division I baseball program in its first-ever year of existence to knock off a defending College World Series champion. On Apr. 4, 2009, the Roadrunners made history in a big way, taking down defending national champion Fresno State in a 4-3 final.
The 25-member squad went on to take three total wins against the Bulldogs. Additional highlight moments included a 15-inning walk-off win over Big West member UC Riverside, a season-opening series victory over St. Louis, a series victory over Big 12 member Nebraska and a season-ending win at Pacific. In all, the Roadrunners completed their first-ever season with a 13-37 record.
2010 saw the Roadrunners take a series from the University of Arizona (2-of-3) which was ranked 22nd at the time of the series. CSUB improved its win total by 13 games, finishing the season 26-30. Zach Arneson (Giants, 21st round), Jason Kudlock (Rangers, 36th round) and Mickey Jannis (Rays, 44th round) became the first Roadrunner baseball players to be selected in the MLB First Year Players Draft.
Kernen has compiled a 160-174 record at CSU Bakersfield, winning the program’s 150th game Apr. 21, 2014 (5-2) at Kansas State.
Kernen began his four-year collegiate coaching career at Cal State Fullerton in 1978. The Titans were then a fledgling NCAA Division I program in their own right, having moved from Division II three years earlier. In five seasons as Fullerton’s pitching coach, he helped guide the Titans to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the College World Series and a national title in 1979.
Kernen left Fullerton following the 1982 season to take over the family’s business interests when his father fell ill. After his father’s passing, he returned for the 1987 season before following Titan Head Coach Augie Garrido to the University of Illinois in 1988. He left Illinois for the head job at Cal State Northridge in 1989.
As head coach at Northridge from 1989 through 1995, Kernen led the Matadors through the transition from Division II to Division I play. More than just make the transition, Kernen led CSUN to a 44-18-1 record, the West Regional championship game and a top 10 ranking in the final NCAA Division I poll in their first season of DI play.
Kernen posted a 240-154-3 record in seven seasons as head coach at CSUN. He led the Matadors to the NCAA Division II title game in 1990 and a berth in the NCAA Division I regional finals in 1991. Kernen’s 1991 squad finished the season ranked No. 10 in Collegiate Baseball’s final poll, becoming just the second team in the history of the poll to ever finish in the top 10 in the nation in its first year at the Division I level. He was also named the NCAA Division II West Region Coach of the Year in 1990.
In the fall of 1995, Kernen stepped away from baseball and enrolled in the prestigious dramatic writing graduate program at Columbia University. There he wrote and produced two full-length plays; And Other Fairy Tales and A Graveyard Symphony by 1997. Two more, Galleria degli Angeli (1998) and Musica de Mariposa (1999), would follow in the next two years, with his 1998 effort being honored as a finalist in the Oglebay Institute National Playwriting Competition.
In 2002, Kernen returned to the coaching ranks as an assistant coach at North Carolina State. Kernen returned to Fullerton in 2007 where he was the volunteer assistant coach for a Titans’ team that advanced to the College World Series.
Kernen won his 400th game as a collegiate head coach against Sacramento State May 22, 2014 during the WAC Tournament. He is 400-328-3 in 12 seasons on the collegiate sidelines.
Kernen graduated cum laude in 1970 from the University of Redlands, where he played college ball. His 11 wins and 1.26 ERA in 106 innings in 1970 earned him first team All-SCIAC, SCIAC Player of the Year, and Redlands Athlete of the Year honors, as well as a place in the Bulldog record book. His 11 victories tie him with Gary Sherman (1965) for the most in a single season at Redlands.
The pitcher was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles organization where he played for three seasons before starting his coaching career in 1974 at his alma mater, San Gorgonio High School. He coached on the prep level at San Gorgonio from 1974-76 before moving onto Orange Coast College for two seasons (1976-77).
Kernen and his wife Betty reside in Bakersfield. The couple has one son, Jonathan.