BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—CSU Bakersfield clinched a first round bye in the 2017 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Saturday night as the Roadrunners defeated Seattle U 5-3. The Roadrunners are 13-7 in WAC play with four games remaining and cannot be worse than the second seed at the tournament, which begins Mar. 24 in Mesa, Ariz.
“Getting a bye in a six-team tournament is a great feat for us,” said CSUB interim head coach Jeremy Beard. “It is a big deal for us.”
Sean Sutton singled in Griffin Andreychuck to give the Redhawks a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Sergio Robles tied the game with a double down the right field line to plate Mahlik Jones in the CSUB second. The Roadrunners put runners on second and third later in the inning which forced SU to bring the infield in. The tactic worked as Connor Moore, the Seattle U pitcher got Junior Felix to ground out to first. Mark Pena would strike out looking to end the inning.
Jones walked on four Moore pitches to begin the CSUB sixth. Max Carter singled up the middle. Robles attempted to bunt with two strikes. Moore fielded the ball and threw to third where Jones was safe. With the bases loaded. Jake Ortega recorded a sac fly to score Jones as Carter advanced to third on the play. Moore fielded the ball and attempted to tag Carter as he ran towards home.
Carter and Moore collided which resulted in the ball falling out of Moore's glove, allowing Carter to score. Robles thrown out by Moore as he attempted to advance to third. Pena reached on an infield single to give CSUB runners at the corners. Pena stole his second base of the game that allowed Andrew Penner's single to drive in two runs for a 5-1 CSUB lead.
Max Modeste walked with two outs in the Seattle U seventh which prompted a CSUB pitching change. Isaiah Moten entered to face Kyler Murphy. Murphy worked the count against Moten to 3-2 before Moten struck out Murphy to complete the inning.
Moten walked Dalton Hurd to begin the ninth. The Roadrunners went to their closer, Naithen Dewsnap to face Curtis Perrin. Perrin struck out on seven pitches. Chase Wells doubled to the right center gap to score Hurd. With two outs, Dewnsap hit Murphy. Aaron Stroosma singled to right to plate Wells. With runners on the corners, Lively struck out to complete the game.
Charles, a freshman from Bakersfield, went a season high 6.2 innings. He struck out four and allowed four hits before giving way to the Roadrunner bullpen. The trio of ‘Runner pitchers gave up a total of six hits.
“Aaron did an excellent job tonight of battling back after falling behind in some counts,” Beard said. “He competed really well. His stuff is really good and he is only going to get better.”
Penner was 2-for-4 with two RBI's. Pena also charted two hits. Led by Pena, CSUB stole seven bases in the game, breaking the school record of six. The Roadrunners raced to six stolen bases in three previous games, most recently against Northern Colorado on May 6. Dewsnap pitched for the 26th time this season, tying Taylor Aikenhead's (2013) school record for most appearances in a season by a Roadrunner pitcher. Lively tallied two of the six Seattle U hits.
“We did a really nice job of grinding out at-bats tonight,” said Beard. “We took a lot of pitches and made their starter throw a lot of pitches and got to their bullpen. We started moving runners and were very aggressive tonight and that turned out to be a big difference in the game tonight.”
The Roadrunners (27-19) and the Redhawks (17-30-1, 6-14 WAC) conclude the series Sunday afternoon. Corey Costelloe's pregame show on ESPN 1230 AM/98.1 FM begins at 11:45 a.m. with first pitch set for noon.
CSUB wraps up the regular season next week at NM State (32-19, 16-4 WAC). The Aggies would be the number one seed in the conference tournament if league play ended May 13. Grand Canyon (26-24, 19-4 WAC) which is in ineligible for the league tournament, is in first place overall heading into May 14 action.