Outstanding performances from two CSU Bakersfield players stood out in a first-ever meeting and win against an impressive University of Hawaii team on Wednesday, April 4 at Hardt Field.
The Roadrunner baseball team beat the Rainbow Warriors 4-3 thanks to two home runs from senior Luis Martinez and a five-inning effort from sophomore Issac Meza (1-0) in his first start this season.
Martinez batted 2-for-3 with 2 home runs and 2 RBIs in the nonconference win. Martinez also hit a home run at Utah Valley in the CSUB sweep.
“I was just looking for a fastball and I got it,” said Martinez on his first home run.
“Coach has been telling me to take more aggressive swings.” Martinez hit the second and third home runs this season for CSUB at Hardt Field. The last time a Roadrunner hit two home runs in one game was last season, on May 26, 2017 at Seattle University. That player was junior Sergio Robles.
Meza pitched five innings on 101 pitches to earn his first win in his first start. He struck out 4 Warriors and allowed one earned run.
“I felt good. I came out, made my pitches,” said Meza.
“I was excited for the opportunity.”
Meza had only thrown four previous innings this season.
Hawaii got on the scoreboard first in the top first inning, thanks to old-school baseball playing. Redshirt-junior Maaki Yamazaki was on second after a sac bunt, then was driven in by a right-field line drive from sophomore Logan Pouelsen to take an early 1-0 lead.
That lead did not last long. Martinez, in the second, hit his first of two home runs of the game to deep left field, clearing the wall and bouncing off the light pole, to tie the game 1-1. In the previous at-bat, it appeared that junior Ryan Koch nearly hit the ball out of Hardt Field, but senior outfielder Johnny Weeks caught the ball at the warning track.
CSUB (14-21, 4-5 Western Athletic Conference) would take the lead in the very next inning. Senior Andrew Penner doubled with two Roadrunners on base. He drove in senior Christian Deaton and junior Daniel Nist to take a 3-1 lead after four innings played.
Martinez got all of it when he homered again to deep left field in the fourth. CSUB led 4-1 after four innings.
Hawaii (20-13, 6-3 Big West Conference) would not go without a fight. The Warriors got two runs back in the sixth inning from Ethan Lopez. He homered to left center field off sophomore Isaiah Moten, right over the 375-foot mark, and Hawaii trailed by one run going into the seventh. Moten came into the game in the sixth but was relieved by freshman Davonte Butler in the seventh.
Butler shut down the Warriors, fanning three and not allowing a hit in the seventh and eighth innings.
Kyle King, redshirt-junior, in his second save, allowed one hit in the ninth. CSUB got a rule favor because redshirt-junior Troy Kakugawa, a pinch-runner, did not slide at second. This caused the runner at first to be called out and the Warriors were down to 2 outs in the top of the ninth instead of two on base. A line shot at a leaping freshman shortstop, Daniel Carrizosa, ended the game and wrapped up the CSUB victory.
Defense played a big part in the win, despite two errors from freshman second baseman Evan Berkey.
In the top of the fifth, with the bases loaded, leading 3-1, the Roadrunners found themselves in danger. Pouelsen stepped up to bat and hit a one-hopper to right mid-center field. First baseman Andrew Penner made an accurate throw to Meza, covering at first. Meza tagged Pouelsen by the skin of his teeth and first base umpire Bob Williams called him out twice to signify the end of the inning.
Martinez said it felt good beating Hawaii, who are leading the Big West in conference.
He said about the Sacramento State upcoming set, “Hopefully this continues into conference and we get that series win.”
“We played solid defense and had good quality at-bats,” said Head Coach Jeremy Beard.
“The guys are playing with confidence right now and they’re playing loose and together. That’s a good sign they’re coming along.”
The Roadrunners put their 4-game winning streak on the line whey they resume WAC competition this weekend, hosting Sacramento State (19-16, 7-2) for a three-game set, beginning this Friday, April 20 at 6 p.m. The Saturday game is also at 6 p.m. and the Sunday finale will be a 12 noon.
Photo by Simer Khurana/ The Runner