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By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian
BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday was one of the easiest wins Jeff McKenzie has had in his Cal State Bakersfield career.
McKenzie, a senior left-hander who leads the Western Athletic Conference in wins and earned run average, saw his Roadrunner teammates score eight runs in the second inning and it was smooth sailing from there in a 13-1 win over Seattle at Hardt Field.
"When we started getting those hits in a row, I had a feeling we'd put up a big number," said McKenzie, who improved to 12-1 and lowered his earned run average to 1.76 with his seven-inning complete game.
The game was called after the Redhawks (19-30, 8-14 WAC) batted in the seventh because of the WAC's 10-run rule.
The 12th win tied McKenzie with Vanderbilt sophomore Tyler Beede (12-0) for the most wins in the nation among Division I pitchers. Beede is scheduled to pitch today.
The win kept CSUB (32-18, 15-7 WAC) one game ahead of Texas State in the WAC standings with five regular-season games remaining. Texas State (14-8 WAC) is alone in second place after beating Texas-Arlington 7-2 Friday. Arlington and Sacramento State are tied for third with 13-9 WAC records.
"That's the good thing," said sophomore center fielder Jordie Hein, who had a pair of two-run singles, giving him his CSUB career-high four RBIs. "As long as we win and take care of business, we'll finish first. All we have to worry about is ourselves."
But with three teams within two games of the Roadrunners, nothing is certain, CSUB coach Bill Kernen said.
"That's why we can't take anything for granted," Kernen said. "Somebody could get really hot. No one wins every game in baseball so we can't assume we will, either.
"The thing we do have going for us: We have played all the best teams in this league and some of them have to play each other. So somebody will lose some of those games."
Seattle had three errors in the eight-run second inning. The Roadrunners sent 13 batters to the plate with the first nine reaching base before an out was recorded. Eight different players scored.
"It was a day when everything went well for us," Kernen said. "Every team has those and every team has those happen against them. It was our turn today. We need to keep in mind this is only one game."
Kernen added: "The best thing about it is we had 13 runs and 14 hits, so we didn't leave a lot of guys on base. We knocked in what we put on base. There have been games when we've left them on base."
The big inning took nearly 45 minutes to complete. McKenzie even went down to the bullpen to throw some pitches during the lengthy rally.
Seattle scored in the third on a single by Chase Fields, a double by Nate Roberts and a passed ball by CSUB catcher Frank Martinez.
"He (McKenzie) had a little trouble that next inning but then he settled down," Kernen said.
"You have got to find a way to be able to lock back in when you go back out," McKenzie said. "It was a long wait. It took me a little bit to get back in the rhythm of things. It took me an inning to be able to hit my spots again but I settled down in the late innings."
The series continues with a 6 p.m. game today and the final CSUB home game of the season will start at noon Sunday.
Notes: Hein, Oscar Sanay, Tyler Shryock, Mylz Jones and Martinez had two hits each for CSUB with Sanay adding three RBIs. No. 3 batter Roberts had two of Seattle's hits. ... The eight-run second ties CSUB's season-high for runs in an inning, which had been done twice previously. Friday was CSUB's second run-shortened game. The March 29 home game ended in the seventh with CSUB winning 13-2 over New Mexico State. The Roadrunners lost 5-4 the next day. Friday's 13 runs ties CSUB's season high, also in the March 29 game.