BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Cal State Bakersfield got sterling pitching and some clutch hitting Tuesday night to rally from behind to beat Fresno State 5-3 at Hardt Field.
CSUB coach Bill Kernen wasn't around to see the comeback. He was ejected in the top of the fifth inning by first base umpire Ross Sweet.
"That was a tough call. It definitely fired us up," said junior left-hander Taylor Aikenhead, who was the winning pitcher.
Associate head coach Jody Robinson filled in for Kernen after the ejection. CSUB is now 5-3.
Kernen's argument turned animated over a fly ball that right fielder Garrett Pierce dropped. Video from Channel 29 showed the catch was clearly made but the ball was dropped as Pierce was moving the ball from his glove to his throwing hand.
"That wouldn't be the first time" a team has rallied after an ejection, Kernen said. "Sometimes it happens. You have to protect your guys sometimes. That was caught and we didn't get what we deserved."
That was CSUB's second error of the inning. It followed a throwing error by first baseman Chance Guspeth that sailed into left field to score a run after Aikenhead picked off Jordan Luplow with Kevin Veirs on third base.
The Bulldogs (1-6 with a six-game losing streak) scored twice in the first on three hits and two walks.
Guspeth played a key role in the comeback.
After Garrett Pierce doubled to lead off the fifth and Mylz Jones sacrificed, Guspeth lined an RBI single to center.
Following a walk and hit batter that loaded the bases. Dylan Christensen's sacrifice fly pulled CSUB within 3-2 and Tyler Shryock lined a two-out RBI single to left-center to tie it.
Guspeth wasn't through. Pierce walked in the sixth and scored from first on Guspeth's double to right-center. The throw to the plate should have retired Pierce, but catcher Austin winn dropped the ball.
And in the eighth, Guspeth tripled into the right field corner and scored on Kris Cayton's RBI single.
"I've been working on two-strike approaches and it's been working pretty good," Guspeth said. "I'm getting back into the groove, putting better swings on the ball and making sure I get a pitch over the plate. That's a big key."
"The kid (Pierce) did a good job running hard and they dropped the ball," Robinson said. "Our left-handers (Guspeth and Shryock) had quality at-bats."
Aikenhead, sidelined the last several weeks of last season with a stress fracture in his (left) pitching arm, said he felt very comfortable. He went six innings, allowing four hits and three walks with four strikeouts.
"My arm felt good the whole night," Aikenhead said. "My stuff felt alright but I wasn't hitting my location early."
Hayden Carter struck out four in two shutout innings of relief and Christensen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
"We can pitch and we will pitch and we'll be in games because of that," Kernen said. "That's been the patter so far: give up some (runs) early, then settle down. They only had a couple of hits after that."
Fresno State's five pitchers struck out 13 Roadrunners.
Fresno State freshman Brody Russell, a first-team All-Area player last year at Centennial High, played left field and batted seventh Tuesday. He went 0-for-4 with a deep fly to center, two line drive outs and a strikeout.
CSUB plays host to Long Island University-Brooklyn Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. and at 1 p.m. Sunday.