BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
It looked like Cal State Bakersfield senior pitcher Jeff McKenzie minimized the damage when he allowed only one run in a rough first inning Friday night.
But that run -- which scored on a bases-loaded walk -- stood up as Hofstra (N.Y.) posted a 1-0 win at Hardt field for its first win of the season.
"I just tried to do too much," said McKenzie, who couldn't seem to find his proper balance at times as his foot stuck in the dirt or skidded.
"The mound got into my head," McKenzie said. "I was more focused on not throwing off a (crummy) mound. I shouldn't blame it on the mound. I blame myself."
With one out, a walk and single, followed by McKenzie's wild pickoff throw to second base, gave Hofstra runners on second and third.
A short fly ball couldn't advance the runners, but McKenzie then walked Kenny Jackson and Joe Perez to force in the run.
McKenzie needed 32 pitches to get out of the inning. But he settled down after that. He wound up going seven innings and retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced.
"McKenzie obviously struggled early but settled down," CSUB coach Bill Kernen said. "Once he got it under control he was who he is and I feel good about that."
Kernen didn't feel as good about the CSUB offense.
Hofstra starter Joe Burg went six innings, and allowed only one hit -- a third-inning single by freshman third baseman Mylz Jones. But he walked six. The Roadrunners, however, couldn't take advantage.
CSUB (2-2) would up with three hits, the six walks and also had a hit-by-pitch. But the Roadrunners were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"I was disappointed," Kernen said. "We spent the whole fall trying to get this fixed. We got shut out last season five or six times and we had really good pitching performances that we wasted."
CSUB scored nine runs in its first two games this season against Nebraska and USC last weekend. "But the last two games we haven't hit," Kernen said, noting Sunday's 8-2 loss to Fullerton in addition to Friday's loss.
"I didn't think that would happen to this team, except for the times when you really go against somebody who's very exceptional, a high round draft pick who throws 95. We're going to see some guys like that."
But Burg was more of a crafty left-hander whose pitches topped out around 85 mph and were mostly slower. Closer Bryan Verbitsky, who got the save, reached 95 mph and was consistently around 92-93.
CSUB successfully pulled off a hidden ball trick.
Robbie Cafiero hit a one-out double in the fifth. Shortstop Tyler Shryock kept the ball and tagged out Cafiero as he took a lead.
"We've tried it a couple of times before but it didn't work," Kernen said. "You can't use it very often because the word will be out all over the place."