College

Thursday, Feb 13 2014 11:21 PM

Roadrunners open season at home against Milwaukee

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    By Henry A Barrios / The Californian

    CSUB pitcher Taylor Aikenhead starts his throw to 1st to get Portland runner Jeff Melby out in a 2012 game.

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BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

Taylor Aikenhead gets his first opening-day start for Cal State Bakersfield today, but the senior lefthander doesn't figure to be around very long.

CSUB coach Bill Kernen said he's putting more emphasis on mid-week games this season than in the past to hopefully improve the Roadrunners' postseason chances if they don't win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

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Today's game

Wisconsin-Milwaukee at CSUB

3 p.m. today, 2 p.m. Saturday, noon Sunday at Hardt Field

Last year's records: Milwaukee 29-21, CSUB 37-22

Notes: Both teams are predicted to win their respective leagues this season, CSUB in the Western Athletic Conference, Milwaukee in the Horizon League. ... Last season the Panthers only allowed seven home runs and CSUB hit only six homers, all on the road, with former catcher Cael Brockmeyer hitting four of them. CSUB had between 19 and 42 in each of its first four seasons of the program's history. ... Because of snow, Milwaukee has not practiced outside to prepare for the season and its first 19 games are on the road.

Because of that, he wants Aikenhead to come back and pitch next Wednesday when CSUB travels to highly touted UC Irvine from the Big West Conference.

Today's season-opener against Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Hardt Field will open a four-game weekend series for the Roadrunners.

Aikenhead, a senior left-hander, started six times in 26 appearances last season and started all 10 of his games his sophomore year before an arm injury ended his season.

"He's going to be one of the leaders," Kernen said. "He's the lynchpin of the pitching staff this year."

Kernen said his early-season starters figure to be limited to about 100 pitches per appearance, but since he wants Aikenhead to start again on short rest Wednesday, he'll likely be limited to about three innings.

Kernen said righthander James Barragan, a junior from Stockdale High, will follow Aikenhead and kept to about three innings.

Why the quick hook? Kernen said he plans on starting Barragan on Tuesday when CSUB plays at UC Santa Barbara.

"Aikenhead, (Saturday's starter) Hayden Carter, (Sunday's starter Austin) Davis and Barragan," Kernen said. "Those are our top starters right now."

Last season, CSUB finished as the Western Athletic Conference regular-season winner, but the Roadrunners saw their season end with a 1-0 loss to Texas-San Antonio in the WAC Tournament, which determined the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Championships.

The NCAA suspended Cal State Bakersfield baseball standout Mylz Jones for the first six games of the season because of a procedural oversight, the school announced Thursday.

Jones, a Freshman All-American infielder for the Roadrunners after hitting .333 a year ago, had completed all preliminary eligibility paperwork with the NCAA Eligibility Center online in the fall of 2012, but according to a statement released by CSUB, one of the check boxes on the forms, a request for final approval of his amateur status, was not checked.

According to the release, Jones had already received preliminary approval by the NCAA and believed the certification was complete. The release said Jones checked the appropriate box after learning of the oversight and was subsequently granted final approval the next day.

CSUB said it is appealing the decision. If that appeal isn't approved, Jones will return to the CSUB lineup Feb. 22 against Towson.

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