College

Sunday, Feb 17 2013 08:10 PM

Fullerton spoils Montoya's return from surgery, hands 'Runners first loss, 8-2

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    CSUB vs Fullerton Baseball CSUB's #15 Kris Cayton slides home as the catcher from Cal State Fullerton #29 Chad Wallach is a second or two slower from tagging him out.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    CSUB vs Fullerton Baseball CSUB's #14 Chuck Buchanan as he pitches to an Cal State Fullerton opponent.

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BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

The results were a disappointment to Cal State Bakersfield left-handed pitchers Jonathan Montoya and Chuck Buchanan on Sunday.

Montoya took the loss and Buchanan had a rough first outing in an 8-2 loss to Cal State Fullerton.

But both said they are healthy and excited to be pitching again after months of recovery from Tommy John elbow replacement surgery.

"Everything felt good. I was very excited," said Montoya, who underwent elbow surgery in January of last year, and hadn't pitched since going 8-5 in 2011. "Maybe a little bit of nerves, but it was great being back on the mound again."

It was CSUB's first loss after opening the season with 9-4 wins over Nebraska and USC.

For the third straight game, CSUB set a single-game baseball attendance record. Sunday's count was 1,358, which followed crowds of 1,075 vs. Nebraska on Friday and 1,301 vs. USC on Saturday.

Montoya, who holds or shares six CSUB career pitching records, was on a 60-pitch count.

He allowed three runs on five hits in four innings with two strikeouts -- the first two batters he faced. After that quick start, he allowed a single and two-run homer to J.D. Davis.

"I got excited with two strikeouts to the first two guys," Montoya said. "But the inning is not over after two outs. I left a mistake up and he (Davis) took advantage of it."

Montoya said he used all of his pitches, but isn't throwing as hard as he was before the surgery.

"I was using all my pitches well," he said. "My change-up was good against that team. The velocity will come."

CSUB coach Bill Kernen said he was happy with Montoya's effort.

"He threw strikes and he seemed pretty comfortable," Kernen said. "He's better than that. He's going to be. The people who have seen him here for the three years when he won all his games (a school-record 16) know what he can do."

Buchanan, who was shut down after four games last season and had his surgery April 2, had a much rougher first inning. He entered in the fifth and walked three of the first four batters he faced.

Davis then launched a grand slam for his second homer of the game. A double and another single immediately followed and Fullerton had an 8-0 lead.

"Buchanan came out very tight and careful and that never works," Kernen said. "These guys haven't pitched in a couple of years, and I don't expect them to be in mid-season form at all. ... I'm trying to get them ready for the start of the WAC."

CSUB is in its first season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. The conference opener is March 22 at Sacramento State.

Buchanan settled down to throw two scoreless innings after the fifth.

"The only encouraging thing I could get out of this is my arm felt good," Buchanan said. "I let that one inning get the best of me. ... I was glad to get the first outing out of the way."

Fullerton improved to 4-0. Sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Koby Gauna had good control for the Titans and didn't allow any runs until the Roadrunners broke through in the eighth.

Kris Cayton led off with a double that Fullerton center fielder Michael Lorenzen couldn't hold when he crashed to the ground trying for a diving catch.

Mylz Jones followed with an RBI single to center, and he eventually scored on a wild pitch.

Even with Sunday's loss, Kernen said he was encouraged by the opening three games.

"We played under control and we made only one error the entire weekend. ...

"We were overmatched today."

Kernen said CSUB won't play as strong a team as Fullerton the rest of the season.

"This is a great ballclub and this was their No. 4 starter, which gives you an idea about how good their pitching staff is."

Weather permitting, CSUB is scheduled to play a 6 p.m. home game Tuesday against Cal State Northridge, then travel to Northridge on Wednesday.

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