BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A pair of tight games fell the way of CSU Bakersfield’s opponent on Saturday as the Roadrunners dropped both games of its Western Athletic Conference doubleheader. Visiting UMKC held off the ‘Runner comeback for a 10-6 victory in Game 1 before defeating the ‘Runners 3-1 to close the series with a sweep.
“I think we were definitely our own Achilles’ heel,” said Crissy Buck-Ziegler, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “Whenever we had things rolling, we were the ones who shot ourselves in the foot. We have got to learn to just play one pitch at a time and stay within ourselves. We need to take what the game gives us and not try to create too much.”
With their first WAC series under their belts, Buck-Ziegler sees her young team needing to improve in order to succeed in the conference: “They need to start playing with some heart. I’m calling them out because I believe in them. I believe that they need to keep playing with their hearts and not their heads.”
The ‘Runners got on the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Nadia Amezcua led the frame off with a walk and eventually advanced to third thanks to small ball by CSUB. An illegal pitch by UMKC’s starter, Lynsey Conner, brought Amezcua home and put the ‘Runners ahead 1-0. CSUB had an opportunity to put more runs on the board with two ‘Runners in scoring position and only one out in the bottom of the second. Conner induced a shallow fly ball and a grounder to get UMKC out of trouble.
In the top of the fourth, UMKC put a pair of runners on base with two outs, but CSUB starter Lyndsay Klimenko got the ‘Runners out of trouble. The senior righty induced a grounder right back to herself and flipped over to first for the third out of the inning.
UMKC finally broke through in the top of the fifth with its first run of the game. With two outs, right fielder Sydney Garcia hit a triple to the left center gap and was plated on Kendra Leach’s RBI single. An inning later, the ‘Roos loaded the bases with one out. A pair of runs were walked in by Klimenko before Leach’s bases-clearing triple capped the 5-run inning to put UMKC ahead 6-2.
The ‘Runners answered back in the bottom half of the sixth, capitalizing on three UMKC errors to the tune of three runs. Chris Hipa drove in a run with a single to right and a fielding error allowed CSUB’s second run to come around. Hipa wound up coming come on a wild pitch later in the inning to make the score 6-5.
The ‘Roos exploded for four runs in the top of the seventh off of four hits. Alex Johnson and Garcia recorded back-to-back doubles to drive in two of UMKC’s runs as the ‘Roos took a 10-5 lead.
Down to their final three outs, the ‘Runners battled back, but their rally came up short. With the bases loaded, junior Megan Marcy earned her second walk and second RBI of the game. UMKC’s Kendra Leach moved from the outfield to the circle and recorded the final two outs, preserving the win and picking up her first save of the season.
Alex Larson earned the victory out of the bullpen for UMKC, pitching 4.2 innings while giving up five runs, three unearned. Klimenko, a senior from Half Moon Bay, Calif., took the loss while pitching her fourth complete game of the season.
Amezcua and Curry each had a pair of hits in the game and the former added a walk. Marcy went 0-for-1 in the game but recorded a pair of RBI with her bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.
UMKC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. A pair of ‘Runner errors helped the ‘Roos score the unearned runs against CSUB’s starter, Summer Evans. The ‘Runners responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the second. After Marcy singled to left, UMKC’s left fielder committed an error that allowed Curry to score, cutting the 'Roos lead to just one run.
CSUB had a great opportunity in the bottom of the fourth after earning three straight walks to load the bases with one out. The ‘Roos recorded a strikeout and a grounder to get out of the threat with the 2-1 lead. UMKC extended its advantage to two runs in the top of the sixth as Kelsey Goodwin’s solo home run to left field put the ‘Roos up 3-1.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Selena Gonzalez drew a walk to keep the ‘Runner hope alive. The rally would end there as Conner, who started Game 1, closed out the 3-1 victory for UMKC with a pop up to end the game.
Conner earned the Game 2 win as UMKC’s most effective reliever, throwing 3.2 innings while giving up no runs off of one hit and three walks. Evans took the loss, falling to 5-9 on the season while pitching her eighth complete game. The junior transfer from Escondido, Calif. gave up three runs, but only one run was earned as Evans limited the 'Roos to just three walks and two hits.
Amezcua wound up reaching base five out of eight times at the plate on the day thanks to a pair of hit by pitches in Game 2. Marcy and freshman Karah Wiseman both went 1-for-2 in the second game while adding a walk each.
The Roadrunners (5-23, 0-3 WAC) will hit the road next week for their first WAC series away from home this season. CSU Bakersfield will travel to Orem, Utah to meet Utah Valley, Apr. 7-8.