BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
Being a closer last year, Ryan Stapp had to be aggressive and go after hitters as soon as he took the mound.
He did it extremely well, tying Bakersfield College's single-season record for saves with 11.
Now he's using that same attacking approach to achieve a great deal of success as a starting pitcher.
Stapp pitched eight strong innings to lead BC to a 9-3 Western State Conference victory Thursday over L.A. Valley College at Gerry Collis Field.
The 6-foot-2 right-hander allowed just one earned run on two hits, both singles, in improving to 4-0.
"(Being a) closer last year helped me out because it gave me a different mentality on just pounding the (strike) zone," Stapp said. "Because in the ninth, you don't really have a chance to miss because it's just one inning."
The Renegades' offense staked Stapp to an early lead, scoring four runs in the first inning. From there BC was never seriously threatened as Stapp, who finished with three strikeouts and two walks, didn't allow a hit until Cameron Doran's single up the middle in the seventh.
"All in all we'll take it," BC coach Tim Painton said. "I felt like, offensively, we did a good job. Defensively, we need to get better. But Stapp pitched well for his eight innings ..."
Nick Sakowski went 3-for-4 and Jordan Turner had two hits -- a double and perfectly executed drag bunt single -- for BC, which took a commanding lead with three runs in the sixth inning and two more the following frame.
Six players had RBIs for the Renegades, led by Turner with three and Sakowski with two.
Making his first appearance as a BC starter in more than two weeks, Sakowski attributed his readiness to staying focused and practicing hard.
"I was just doing everything I've always done," Sakowski said. "Just staying with a consistent approach ... Some days you just get good and lucky."
Most of BC's damage was done against L.A. Valley starting pitcher Scott Torrey.
The sophomore lefty gave up seven runs on eight hits and four walks before being lifted with one out in the sixth.
BC committed three errors in the second inning, including two on one play, leading to two unearned runs. That defensive lapse came right on the heels of BC's first-inning offensive outburst.
Renegades Kyle Nixon and Erik Williams led off with back-to-back singles. Two batters later Justin Martinez drilled a grounder through the hole between first and second to give BC a 1-0 lead.
Cole Hallum followed with an RBI double, making it 2-0, and Turner added a two-run double. Painton said the early offense set the tone.
"You got a little bit of breathing room and it allows your pitcher to go out and just attack the zone," he said. "I felt like Ryan did that and our hitters did an outstanding job in that first inning stringing hits together."