BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — UTSA loaded the bases and scored two runs in the ninth inning, but CSU Bakersfield was able to hold on for a 6-3 victory on Friday night at Hardt Field.
The CSUB bullpen helped starting pitcher Jeff McKenzie out of a jam in the ninth, as Taylor Aikenhead induced a game-ending double play off the bat of Daniel Rockett.
Rockett hit a grounder on the final pitch of the game to shortstop Tyler Shryock, who flipped the ball to second baseman Oscar Sanay to force out John Welborn. However, as Sanay turned to throw to first base, Welborn was called for interference after sliding past the bag and Rockett was ruled out to end the contest.
McKenzie (8-1) allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out eight in 8.1 frames of work, while Aikenhead picked up his third save of the season.
Dylan Christensen and Mylz Jones each paced CSU Bakersfield (22-13, 7-3 WAC) at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs.
The Roadrunners (19-14, 4-5 WAC) left seven runners on base, including five in scoring position.
Brock Hartson (4-4) took the loss for the Birds after yielding four runs on six hits over six-plus stanzas. The right-hander struck out four.
RJ Perucki got the scoring off to a quick start when he hammered a two-out solo home run to right field in the opening inning.
However, CSUB scored the next six tallies — one in the second, two in the fifth and three more in the seventh — to build a five-run cushion for McKenzie.
After the home Roadrunners took a 3-1 lead in the fifth, the left-hander allowed just two hits, both singles, until the ninth.
The Roadrunners started their rally in the final panel when Mike Warren was hit by McKenzie on an 0-2 breaking pitch. After Tony Ramirez lined out, Horacio Correa III dumped a single into left center, which moved Warren to third base. Riley Good then reached when Chance Gusberth dropped a fly ball in right field and that allowed Warren to score and Jesse Baker followed with a single through the left side of the infield to load the bases.
With the bases packed of Roadrunners, Welborn lined a single into left that pushed Correa III across the plate, but CSU Bakersfield head coach Bill Kernen made the move to the bullpen and brought in Aikenhead to face Rockett. The Western Athletic Conference's leading hitter grounded a 2-2 pitch up the middle that ended the game.
The weekend series continues at 8 p.m. (CT) on Saturday. Southpaw Michael Kraft (1-3, 4.13 ERA) will start for UTSA, while CSUB is scheduled to counter with rightty Scott Brattvet (5-1, 1.91 ERA).