BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Gee sat back and watched his first six college baseball games.
On Saturday night, he had a memorable debut for Cal State Bakersfield.
Gee, a freshman right-hander from Taft High, pitched seven shutout innings and allowed only two hits as the Roadrunners downed Towson (Md.) 8-1 at Hardt Field.
"He was excellent," said sophomore third baseman Mylz Jones, who was making his 2014 debut after serving a six-game suspension handed down by the NCAA because an eligibility form was improperly filled out prior to last season.
"He dealt today," Jones said. "He threw a lot of strikes and let the defense work for him. Every pitch he throws he gives us a chance to make a play."
Gee, who threw 52 strikes in his 89 pitches, walked two and struck out one. CSUB played errorless defense and turned two of its four double plays behind Gee.
"I was nervous a little bit," said Gee, who was 7-2 with an ERA of 0.78 last spring at Taft. "It makes it easy when you have a really good defense. ...
"I just wanted to come out and execute my pitches. My fastball, I was able to keep it low. I still have to work on my offspeed stuff."
"He wasn't scared," CSUB coach Bill Kernen said after the Roadrunners improved to 5-2. "He threw strikes. For the first time pitching in a college Division I game, he was good."
Kernen said his instructions to Gee were simple.
"Make them hit the ball and keep it down, and that's what he did," Kernen said.
Gee wasn't overpowering but effectively mixed up his pitches. Towson (3-2) hit some balls hard but most were directly at CSUB defenders.
Towson's defense struggled all night. The Tigers had six errors, leading to five unearned runs.
"They really did help us out," Kernen said. "We'll take it. I'm still not happy with the way we're swinging the bats."
The top four batters in CSUB's lineup went a combined 0-for-16. But No. 9 batter Jordie Hein had three hits, scored twice and had an RBI. CSUB had RBI triples by Logan Trowbridge and David Metzgar.
Jones went 0-for-3 with two walks and scored a run in his debut.
He nearly started a triple play in the eighth inning. The Tigers had scored and had runners on first and second when Brady Policelli hit a one-hopper to Jones near the third base bag.
Jones tagged third, threw to second for the forceout and second baseman Metzgar's throw to first was a half-step late in CSUB's bid for its third triple play in the program's six-season history.
"We're playing defense lights out," Kernen said.
Hein, Bakersfield's center fielder, twisted his ankle when he went back to third base awkwardly in the eighth inning in avoiding a tag. He hopped one leg to score after the ball was thrown out of play. He was able to walk with the ankle heavily iced after the game.
"We know it's not broken because he can put some weight on it," Kernen said.
"I'll be OK," Hein said.
CSUB goes for the series sweep today at 1 p.m. with hard-throwing left-hander Austin Davis set to be Bakersfield's starting pitcher.