BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
It wasn't entirely smooth sailing for Bakersfield College starting pitcher Justin Kelly on Tuesday night.
But once the sophomore left-hander settled into a rhythm after some early trouble, he was nearly untouchable.
Kelly's strong effort helped BC claim a 7-3 Western State Conference-South victory over West Los Angeles College at Gerry Collis Field.
During his 7-2/3 innings pitched, Kelly recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts. He allowed just two earned runs on seven hits, with one walk.
BC (17-4, 10-2 WSC) remains tied with Glendale College atop the WSC South standings. Glendale nipped Citrus College 9-8 in 16 innings on Tuesday.
"Any conference win is definitely a big win," Kelly said. "I tried to go out there and give my team a chance to win. Got in a little trouble early, but every inning I felt a little better and better. Came out on top. Feel good."
The Renegades, No. 2 in the current California Community College Baseball So Cal rankings, had just five hits, all singles.
However, BC made the most of its scoring opportunities, leaving only three runners on base.
"We had to fight through this one tonight," BC coach Tim Painton said. "We faced two very good pitchers ... I felt like our hitters did a good job of grinding through to put some runs on the board tonight. So we're happy to get out of here with a (win)."
Kyle Nixon, who went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs, was the only member of the Renegades to register multiple hits.
Trailing 1-0 after Kelly was touched up for three hits in the second inning, the Renegades rallied for four runs in the third.
After a Nixon sacrifice bunt turned infield single loaded the bases, Erik Williams plated the Renegades' first run with an infield blooper that West L.A. second baseman Rey Sanchez couldn't quite catch, despite a diving attempt.
Blayne Ontiveros followed with a hard liner off the glove of Wildcats third baseman Jose Munoz, scoring another run.
The Renegades tacked on two more runs before the rally ended, giving Kelly all the run support he would need.
"Early he just didn't have fastball command," Painton said of Kelly. "It seemed like every fastball he threw was dead-center, middle of the plate and it got squared-up. By the third inning he kind of settled down and was able to locate his fastball. He worked his changeup in very effectively. It was probably his best outing in the last month. I'm very pleased because he's a guy we count on and today was a big step for him."
BC scored all its runs off West L.A. starter Jamaal Moore. The sophomore southpaw gave up five hits and four walks. He also hit two batters and had two strikeouts.
Leading 5-3, BC knocked Moore out of the game in the seventh, scoring two runs on a walk and infield hit.
Moore hurt his own cause during the inning with a two-base throwing error that allowed Nick Sakowski to score from first on Nixon's second bunt single of the game.