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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- Cal State Bakersfield couldn't solve the University of Texas-San Antonio pitching staff Saturday morning, losing 1-0 in the Western Athletic Conference baseball tournament.
With the loss, the winningest season in CSUB program history likely comes to a close.
Needing a victory to advance to the WAC title game, which decides conference's the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, CSUB could muster only three hits in a game split over two days because of Friday night thunderstorms.
Play resumed at QuikTrip Park at 10 a.m. Saturday (8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time for the CSUB players), about 12 hours after the decision was made to postpone the game around 10 p.m. Friday night. The game couldn't be played later in the day because the tournament had three consecutive games scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
With the quick turnaround, play resumed in the top of the fifth with San Antonio's John Welborne on second base and no outs. CSUB reliever Chuck Buchanan escaped that jam with a groundout, strikeout and flyout, preserving the scoreless tie.
Buchanan, who threw the remaining five innings Saturday, allowed the game's lone run in the sixth inning when Mike Warren doubled home Tony Ramirez.
CSUB's Scott Brattvet and San Antonio's Nolan Trabanino each pitched four scoreless innings Friday night, but neither returned to the mound Saturday.
Matt Sims pitched five scoreless innings of relief for the victory.
CSUB’s best chance to score came in the eighth, when Kevin Younger drew a leadoff walk, then advanced to second and third on two groundouts. However, Oscar Sanay popped out to end the threat. CSUB (37-22) was retired in order in the ninth inning.
CSUB outscored opponents 18-5 in its three tournament games (the top-seeded Roadrunners defeated San Jose State 11-3 and Sacramento State 7-1 on Thursday), but the round-robin format set up the must-win game (essentially a semifinal) against No. 5-seed San Antonio. UTSA outscored San Jose State and Sacramento State by a combined 16-5 score in its first two games.
San Antonio (34-23) advanced to the WAC title game against Pool B winner and No. 7-seed Dallas Baptist. That game will be played today at 11 a.m.
The 37 victories on the season sets a CSUB program record; the previous high of 33 came in 2011.
The WAC tournament winner is expected to be the league’s only qualifier for the NCAA tournament because the ratings percentage index (RPI) of the conference’s 10 members are not strong enough. RPI is used by the NCAA to help determine at-large postseason qualifiers. RPI is determined by a team’s won-lost record, the won-lost record of opponents and the record against the opponents’ opponents.
To earn an at-large spot at the NCAAs, CSUB coach Bill Kernen said earlier this year that an RPI had to be no higher than the 40s. Entering the tournament, CSUB led all WAC teams with an RPI of 82, followed by Sacramento State (118), Texas State (131), San Antonio (138) and New Mexico State (156). San Jose State’s is 271 out of 298 teams with Division I baseball programs.