A tip of the cap to our Roadrunners

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Senior pitcher James Barragan walks off the field during Friday’s NCAA Regional game against UCLA. The Roadrunners dropped both games to UCLA, but earned their first ever postseason victory against Ole Miss on Saturday in a 2-1 win. Photo by AJ Alvarado/The Runner

Esteban Ramirez

Sports Editor

Though the CSU Bakersfield baseball team did not advance to the NCAA Super Regionals, it did achieve something unprecedented in the program’s history: making the NCAA Baseball Regionals and earning the school’s first NCAA D-I Tournament win.

“They put it out there pretty hard every day and have been able to do some things that they possibly really shouldn’t be able to do,” CSUB coach Bill Kernen said to gorunners.com. “There are a lot of universities in this country that spend a lot of money building stadiums and do a lot of other things to try to be able to play at a NCAA Regional. It isn’t that easy.

“These guys have been able to do that with much more limited resources than a lot of other universities have been able to. That’s been due to the effort of our coaches and players.”

After winning the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, CSUB (37-24-1) clinched an automatic berth to the NCAA Baseball Regionals. Once there the Roadrunners lost the first game to UCLA on May 29 at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles.

CSUB fans made the trip to watch their Roadrunners play in their first NCAA baseball playoff game at Jackie Robinson Stadium on May 29. Photo by AJ Alvarado/The Runner
CSUB fans made the trip to watch their Roadrunners play in their first NCAA baseball playoff game at Jackie Robinson Stadium on May 29.
Photo by AJ Alvarado/The Runner

However, CSUB bounced back in an elimination game against the University of Mississippi. The Roadrunners beat the Rebels 2-1 on May 30. That win not only gave CSUB its first NCAA D-I Tournament win but also eliminated Ole Miss, which had been in the 2014 College World Series.

“It’s very significant because every step you take with a new program is big,” said Kernen on the significance of the program’s first win. “We’ve taken many of them over the seven years. To get here was another one that we haven’t taken yet, and now we’ve done that… To come out from where we did, from nothing in 2009, and to be able to say that we won a NCAA playoff game is something we’re extremely proud of.”

CSUB then played in another elimination game but this time it was against UCLA on May 31.

For 6 2/3 innings, the Roadrunners stayed in the game as they trailed the Bruins 1-0 behind a gutsy performance from sophomore pitcher Steven Gee and the Roadrunners defense. However, with only one more out to get out of the inning, UCLA’s sophomore Brett Stephens lined a ball to junior shortstop Mylz Jones but the ball bounced off his glove and the Bruins’ sophomore Darrell Miller Jr. scored.

Then junior Ty Moore hammered a three-run home run to right field to blow open the game and give the Bruins a 5-0 lead. UCLA added another run and took a 6-0 lead and sparked its 9-1 victory over the Roadrunners.

This was Kernen’s final game as baseball coach for CSUB.

“I told them that they’re in position to feel horrible right now but that it won’t last,” Kernen said. “What I told them was that they did something no other team here has been able to do, and they brought the program forward another big step, and they were the ones that did that. No one can ever take that away from them.”

CSUB also tied its record for most wins in a season with 37.

Senior Jordie Hein said that it’s bittersweet that his career is coming to an end.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” Hein said. “I’ve put four years into this program, and to see where it’s come and to see where it is right now, there are feelings of happiness.

“It’s been the four best years of my life,” Hein said. “There’s nothing else I could ever compare to in collegiate athletics. It’s so amazing. The city of Bakersfield getting behind us and leading the way … it’s been so much fun. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Gee (5-4), who went 6 2/3 innings, gave up five runs but only one earned run, received the loss in the final game.

He said that he only sees the team going up from here.

“Bigger and better things,” Gee said. “We’re going to keep moving on. Next year’s going to be good. We’re going to get to another regional next year, hopefully.”