Baseball splits series with Hofstra thanks to defense and pitching

By Steven Gaede

Sports Editor

By beating Hofstra 5-1 Sunday evening, the baseball team was able to split the four-game series with the team from Long Island, New York, improving to 4-3 on the season.

Earning his first win of the season, and his first since Tommy John surgery was redshirt senior pitcher, Jonathan Montoya. Montoya tossed six innings, only giving up two hits. Over the course of his outing, Montoya also stuck out two and walked five.

“I’m really happy to get that first win under the belt again,” Montoya said. “The arm feels pretty tight right now. That’s the longest I’ve gone in awhile.”

“The changeup was working a lot. The curveball seemed to have its moments too. I missed a lot with the fastball up, but I guess I was around the plate enough to where they couldn’t be consistent.”

Montoya was originally placed on a sixty pitch count prior to the game, but that plan went out the window as the 5’7″ lefty pitched his way through the lineup, only facing 11 batters between the third and fifth innings. After his defense got a force play at second base to end the sixth inning, Montoya was pulled. Montoya made 87 pitches in the game.

“He was really just getting his rhythym a couple innings before I took him out,” Head Coach Bill Kernen said. “I would have normally taken him out an inning earlier but because of the way he was going and the fact that I am trying to develop him and get him back into rhythm…I thought I would go ahead and give him another one.”

The lone run given up by Montoya came in the second inning; it was not earned on account of a couple of pickoff attempts by Montoya that were chalked up as errors. Besides Montoya’s play on the mound, there was one other CSUB error in the game. The error occurred with two outs in the top of ninth when the ball was thrown to first to end the game but it was bobbled, extending the game one batter.

With three errors on the scoreboard, the defense might have seemed shaky going off of the box score alone, but it was the defense that kept the ‘Runners ahead of Hofstra the whole game.

There were a handful of great plays on the defensive side by CSUB, perhaps the best and most worthy of making SportsCenter was a sliding play by senior leftfielder Kevin Younger in the seventh inning. Having been placed into the game at the start of the seventh, Younger did not waste any time to make an impact, making a sliding backhanded grab on a foul ball that was trailing away from him, right in from of Hofstra’s bullpen.

“The outfield play was spectacular today,” Kernen said. “Kernen really focuses on defense just as much as offense,” said sophomore centerfielder Garrett Pierce.

Also having spectacular defense was junior shortstop Tyler Shryock who had a part in all three outs in the eigth inning. Shryock started off the inning by putting an out on the board by backhanding a line drive hit between himself and freshman third baseman Mylz Jones. Following up his nifty catch, Shryock made a diving stop on a ball that appeared to be a hit up the middle, turning it into a double play instead.

“I’m glad I could help out the team in anyway I could,” Shryock said. “I wasn’t having too good of a day and I really wanted to help out the team and I got an opportunity and I’m really thankful for that.”

Shryock also spoke on the defensive web gems from the pitchers’ point of view saying “They love it. I’m glad I could pick it up for them.”

While the defense was sliding and diving, the ‘Runners were able put up 11 hits. Senior rightfielder/pitcher Dylan Chirstensen and Pierce led Bakersfield in hits with three a piece. Pierce had two of the three RBI’s on the game for CSUB, the other one going toward Shryock who had two doubles. The other two runs for CSUB resulted due to defensive mishaps by Hofstra.

“I saw the ball really well. BP (batting practice) went really well. We really focused on going the other way, we got the pitches and we didn’t miss them,” Pierce said.

Offensively, the five runs CSUB put on the board was the second best game of the series for Bakersfield.

“We’re getting guys on base but we’re not able to get RBI assignments done. That means we’re probably pressing when we have guys on base,” Kernen said. “There is some reason this is happening because it is the same guys that are getting the hits to get on, so I think it might be that they’re pressing too much with runners on base.”

The lack to fullfil RBI assignments was evident in the first game of the series.

CSUB was unable to get on the board against Hofstra Friday night, losing 1-0. Bakersfield was only able to put up four hits in the game to the previously 0-4 Hofstra team. Hofstra’s effort on the mound was a combination of the performances by Joe Burg who went six innings, Brett Schreiber who went two innings and Bryan Verbitsky who pitched one inning.

The lone run for Hofstra came in the top of the first after the man on third was walked home. CSUB’s senior pitcher Jeff McKenzie had a great outing, going seven innings while allowing five hits and striking out three.

The ‘Runners captured the first game of the Saturday double-header against Hofstra, 7-3. The effort was led by senior pitcher Scott Brattvet. Brattvet tossed eight innings, allowing two earned runs off of eight hits; Brattvet also walked three and struck out five in his time on the mound.

On the offensive side, the ‘Runners were led in hits by junior catcher Cael Brockmeyer. Brockmeyer had three hits and two RBI’s. In addition to Brockmeyer, senior first baseman Dylan Christensen, junior second baseman Oscar Sanay and sophomore outfielder Garrett Pierce had multi-hit games.

CSUB did not blow the game open in any particular inning, putting runs on the board in half of the innings the ‘Runners stepped to the plate. Bakersfield scored two runs in the first, second and third innings, while putting up a lone run in the fourth.

CSUB fell to Hofstra in the second game of Saturday’s double-header 6-4. Bakersfield was sporting a two run lead going into the fourth but Hofstra put four runs up on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth.

Hofstra’s game changing inning was a result of three singles, an error, a wild pitch and two walks. Rightfielder Austin Nyman led Hofstra by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. CSUB’s effort was highlighted by Shryock who had three hits and a walk. Brockmeyer also had two hits.

CSUB will play host to Long Island University Mar. 1 and Mar. 2 at 6 p.m. and Mar. 3 at 1:00 p.m.

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