BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—A furious late rally just fell short for CSU Bakersfield as the Roadrunners dropped a 13-12 decision to the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Saturday night at Hardt Field.
With the Western Athletic Conference 10-run mercy rule looming, the Vaqueros took a 13-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh. The Roadrunners responded by sending 12 batters to the plate, recording seven hits, and scoring eight runs (the third most in an inning in school history) to create a two-run game.
“I am proud of our effort and the fact our kids were in every pitch and competed all the way to the end,” said CSUB interim head coach Jeremy Beard.
Mark Pena worked out a walk against UTRGV closer Luis Acosta to open the CSUB eighth. He moved to second on an Andrew Penner single before both advanced a base on a successful David Metzgar bunt. Ryan Grotjohn was intentionally walked to load the bases. Max Carter worked out a walk on a seven-pitch at-bat to make it a one-run game. With the bases still loaded, Mahlik Jones worked the count to 3-2 before Acosta struck him out. Acosta closed the inning by striking out Ryan Kono.
The Vaqueros threatened in the ninth when UTRGV received back-to-back two out hits from Lucas Jensen and Isaac Gonzalez. Freshman Aaron Charles, making his Roadrunner debut after a knee injury Saturday night, struck out Anthony Gomez to complete his third inning of work.
Christian Deaton singled to open the ‘Runner ninth. Pinch-hitter Jake Ortega put down a successful sacrifice bunt to advance Deaton into scoring position. Acosta hit Pena on a 3-2 pitch to put the go-ahead run at first. Acosta struck out Andrew Penner for the second out. Metzgar flew out to right to end the game.
Cris Castillo paced UTRGV as he went 3-for-3 with three runs batted in and three runs scored. Evan Estrella was 3-for-5 with three RBI’s while Conrad McMahon went 3-for-6 with two runs scored. Connor Grant pitched the first five innings to earn the win. The Vaqueros’ middle relief gave up eight of the 12 CSUB runs. Acosta earned his sixth save of the year by pitching the final two innings.
CSUB outhit UTRGV 14-12, but committed two more errors (3-1). Penner led the Roadrunners by going 3-for-6 with an RBI. Junior Felix was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI’s. Jones charted two hits while Pena, the ‘Runner leadoff hitter scored three times and worked out two walks. Charles, the fifth pitcher of the night for CSUB, tossed three scoreless innings of relief. He gave up two hits and struck out two.
“That was a heck of an effort by our offense,” said Beard. “We did a great job of taking care of their mistakes. We nice job of competing and battling back. It all starts on the mound. We did not make pitches and gave them too many free bases and then hits hurts us behind it. We are excited to get Aaron back. We put him in a position to get some work in today. I think he lit a fire under the team by pitching the way he did. He has worked really hard of rehabbing his knee. We’ve needed that extra arm and looking forward to having him and Alec Daily (who is recovering from arm surgery) back, it changes the entire dynamic of the bullpen.”
The series between CSUB (12-10, 1-4 WAC) and UTRGV (17-14, 1-4 WAC) concludes Sunday. Corey Costelloe’s pre-game show on 1230 ESPN/98.1 FM begins at 11:45. Roadrunner Sports Network coverage via Youtube.com gets underway at 12 p.m.