BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Ross Hough said Saturday night he had never experienced the feeling of a walk-off hit before.
"It's one of the best feelings I've ever had," said Hough, a junior catcher and Stockdale High graduate who lined an RBI single up the middle in the 11th inning to give Cal State Bakersfield a 2-1 win over Sacramento State at Hardt Field.
"I never had a walk-off in high school. It was my first one," Hough said.
CSUB (17-24 overall, 9-8 Western Athletic Conference) evened its series vs. WAC-leading Sacramento (26-17, 13-4). The series concludes today at 1 p.m.
Saturday featured a great pitching duel between Sacramento freshman left-hander Sam Long and CSUB junior righty James Barragan, also a former Stockdale star.
Barragan was spectacular. He took a two-hit shutout into the ninth but the Hornets tied it on a single, stolen base, hit batter and RBI single by Rhys Hoskins, the WAC's leading home run hitter and No. 2 RBI man.
Soloman Williams, who drove in CSUB's first-inning run with a bases-loaded grounder, led off the CSUB 11th by golfing a pitch into right field for a single.
Mylz Jones sacrificed and was safe when losing pitcher Alex Palsha failed to field the bunt cleanly.
Garrett Pierce sacrificed the runners to second and third and Hough drilled a hanging curve ball past diving shortstop Scotty Burcham for the game-winner.
Barragan had faced only two batters over the minimum and had thrown only 87 pitches through eight innings.
Hitting Kyle Moses with a pitch after Nathan Lukes had singled and stolen second turned into a key play of the ninth. "Honestly, if I throw that slider that hits the guy for a strike, I get out of that inning," Barragan said.
"You can't make a mistake when it's a 1-0 game," CSUB coach Bill Kernen said. "The guy he hit was the problem. If he doesn't hit him and gets him out, I can walk Hoskins with the base open. Not that the next guy wouldn't have gotten a hit, but he's not quite as hot as their best hitter is."
It's been a complete turnaround for Barragan, who was removed as a weekend starter two weeks ago but re-inserted back into that spot after a strong relief outing one week earlier.
"He's turned it around. He's pitching as well as anyone is now," Kernen said.
Kernen said he discussed different aspects of pitching with Barragan but declined to be more specific.
"I changed our approach to the games. That's about as much as I can say," Kernen said. "Just some private stuff between James and me and he took it to heart. We'll see where it goes, but these last two games he's done really good."
"Coach challenged me," Barragan said. "He said I had to start performing. 'You've got to click it in.' ...
"I took it to heart, visualized more and I'm really just trying to help my team win."