By Steven Barker
While offense was at a premium in CSUB’s Tuesday, April 23 baseball game against the Fresno State Bulldogs, freshman Mylz Jones’ clutch two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning seized a 1-0 lead for the Runners. Coupled with a bases-loaded walk in the same inning by freshman Chance Guspeth and a shutout by three different pitchers overwhelmed the Bulldogs, resulting in a 2-0 victory for CSUB. Tuesday’s win both propels the Runners to a 28-14 season-record and wins the season series against the Bulldogs.
Despite being a pitcher’s duel for most of the game, both teams had multiple opportunities to seize an early lead. The Runners found themselves in dire straits in the top of the third inning when, following a wild pitch and two walks, the Bulldogs had the bases loaded with only one out. While the Bulldogs battled in their next at-bat, a low fastball by Buchanan forced a double play to end the inning unscathed.
Although Buchanan occasionally struggled with his pitch location – he walked four batters in three innings – he ultimately allowed zero runs and struck out two batters. He received a no-decision.
The Runners too squandered opportunities to score in the bottom of the third inning. Singles by freshman Nick Vehlewald and junior Oscar Sanay put runners on first and second; however, a subsequent groundout ended the inning, stranding two runners on base.
Opportunity presented itself again in the bottom of the fourth when, after a single by junior Cael Brockmeyer and a walk by Jones, a beautiful bunt down the third base line by senior Kevin Younger loaded the bases with no outs. However, a fielder’s choice and two consecutive strikeouts ended the inning, stranding three runners and preserving a 0-0 tie.
The fourth, fifth and sixth innings for the Bulldogs proved fruitless. In his three innings, Barragan recorded three strikeouts, walked only one batter and allowed no hits. No Bulldog reached further than first base in Barragan’s three innings.
“As a pitcher, you know you just want to go up and throw zeroes,” Barragan said after the game. “We know that we’re capable of that as a staff, so anytime we go on the mound, we’re looking for shutouts.”
The Runners finally broke the tie in the bottom of the eighth inning. After a double by Sanay and an intentional walk to Brockmeyer, Jones responded with a two-out single up the middle to plate Sanay and advance Brockmeyer to second, giving the Runners a 1-0 lead.
“I was just trying to do what I was doing before that at-bat – put good swings on balls and put it in-play somewhere,” said Jones.
A balk by Fresno State and two consecutive walks scored another runner, giving the Runners a 2-0 lead. Carter retired the side in the top of the ninth to secure the win for CSUB.
In his three innings, Carter allowed three hits, struck out one batter and allowed zero runs. The victory over the Bulldogs improves his record to 2-1 on the season.
After the game, Head Coach Bill Kernen reflected on the significant strides the baseball program has made in the last four years.
“It is satisfying to us,” said Kernen. “My guys have really battled to get themselves up to this level, and we don’t say we’re better than them, but we think we’re definitely in the neighborhood.”
Kernen also addressed the significance of beating rival Fresno State.
“The Fresno [rivalry] is pretty special, we all know that,” said Kernen. “It’s special from that perspective, and they’ve beat us before, and this year it was our turn.”
For other players, beating a regional rival was a significant moment for many of CSUB’s players.
“It feels great just to beat a rival team my first year here, especially three times so far,” Jones said.
“It’s always huge every time we can get a win over Fresno State,” Brockmeyer said. “They’re our Valley rival, and it’s always a big game for us.”
“It’s a little personal for me,” Barragan said after the game. “I was getting recruited by them a little bit and they stopped talking to me. I got buddies on that team that I was playing against – guys that decided not to come here and play for big Fresno State, so it’s nice as a Bakersfield kid to beat Fresno three straight in the season.”
The win improves CSUB’s record to 28-14 this season. The Runners next play at home on May 10 through May 12, when they host Seattle University for three consecutive games.