SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Cal State Bakersfield stepped out of the highly competitive Western Athletic Conference baseball race to defeat No. 6 UC Santa Barbara 5-3 on Tuesday afternoon.
“To beat a top-10 ranked team in the country is of course a signature win for the program,” CSUB head coach Bill Keenen said.
The Gauchos loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first but were only able to get one run across as CSUB starter Steven Gee struck out Andrew Calica and got Clay Fisher to ground out to short. CSUB posted three consecutive infield singles with two outs in the top of the third before David Metzgar singled up the middle to drive in a pair of runs to give the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead. The Gauchos used a two-out rally of their own in the bottom of the fourth when three consecutive hits resulted in leadoff hitter Woody Woodward driving in the tying run with a single.
The Roadrunners took the lead in the top of the seventh. With Mylz Jones on first after hitting a single, Ryan Grotjohn attempted to sacrifice Jones to second. The ball was fielded by UCSB first baseman Austin Bush, who threw the ball all the way down the right field line. That allowed Jones to score.
Woodward was hit by an AJ Monarrez pitch to open the bottom of the seventh. Peter Maris attempted to use a sacrifice bunt to move Woodward up 90 feet. Monarrez fielded the ball and threw down to Jones at short for the first out. Jones completed the double play by throwing Maris out at first. Billy Frederick’s groundout to second finished off the seventh.
Jordie Hein began the CSUB eighth with an infield single. Hein moved to second on a Joey Sanchez sac bunt and advanced to third on a Metzgar groundout. Max Carter hit a grounder to Maris at third. Maris’ throw was high, allowing Carter to reach base and Hein to score.
O’Brien recorded his third hit of the day when he singled to start off the eighth. Luke Swenson walked before Calica attempted to put down a sacrifice bunt. Monarrez fielded the ball and threw to third to get the lead runner. Clay Fisher popped out to second which brought Austin Bush to the plate. Bush hit a grounder to first. Soloman Williams fielded it and tossed the ball to Monarrez, covering the bag to keep the game at 4-2.
CSUB loaded the bases in the top of the ninth with two outs. Mahlik Jones walked to earn an RBI and increase the lead to three. Monarrez struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Plantier looking as the ninth got underway. Woodward walked. Maris grounded out to first before Frederick singled up the middle to plate Woodward. Carter relieved Monarrez to face O’Brien. O’Brien, 3-for-4 entering the at-bat, flew out to right as Carter earned his second save.
Monarrez took over for Gee in the fourth and tossed 5.2 innings of six-hit relief. He struck out three. Hein led the Roadrunners as he went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. Sanchez was 2-for-3. Maris and Frederick both charted two hits for the Gauchos.
“The best aspect of today’s win was that AJ was able to pitch so well and give us another pitcher who can give us a potential high quality outing during the WAC Tournament,” Kernen said. “It was a team effort and that is what we like most about win like this.”