Baseball observers call it "little ball."
Cal State Bakersfield did that and plenty more in Friday afternoon's season-opening 9-4 win over Nebraska.
Before a baseball home game-record crowd of 1,075 at Hardt Field, the Roadrunners scored three runs on squeeze bunts and another on a wild pitch. But there were also RBI doubles by Chance Gusbeth and Dylan Christensen and a 5-for-5 game by shortstop Tyler Shryock in a 15-hit outburst.
"We have more of a multi-dimensional offense than we had last year," CSUB coach Bill Kernen said. "We used the bunt game very well today."
Christensen added a bunt single on a two-strike count.
"We have certain guys we think can use their speed in ways we can get some runs when they're out there at third base instead of just swinging (the bat)," Kernen said.
Jeff McKenzie started his second straight season-opener. He had a no-decision last season but got the win Friday by shaking off a rough start. He threw six innings, allowing five hits, two walks and three runs while striking out six.
“We played very well, played under control,” Kernen said. “We played like a veteran team should play.”
Nebraska got two runs in the first but McKenzie settled down after. The other run he allowed was a solo homer by catcher Tanner Lubach leading off the fourth.
“It was a great honor,” McKenzie said of the opening-day start. “For some reason, this year it hit me a little bit more.”
McKenzie said he came out too fired up, which affected his pitching selection and location in the first inning when the Cornhuskers had three hits and a walk to score twice.
“I tried to do too much, but after that it was just throwing my pitches the way I usually do.”
Kernen said McKenzie tried to throw too hard.
“That’s not his game,” Kernen said. “His game is command and throwing all of his pitches for strikes. He went out and tried to be somebody he wasn’t in the first inning.”
McKenzie also got into trouble in the third. CSUB had just scored three runs in the second to take a 5-2 lead but Nebraska loaded the bases with one out.
McKenzie struck out Josh Scheffert and Austin Darby to work out of the jam.
“That was very big,” Kernen said. “You’ll get those as a pitcher. There’s always going to be a time, at least once, when, OK, something will happen here one way or another.
“If you did in and get it done, you usually come out OK. We expect that from him and he did it.”
Kernen pulled McKenzie after 102 pitches.
“I had him on a limit of 100 because this year I’m not going to have guys going complete games if their totals are above that,” Kernen said. “That’s because I want to save pitches for later in the year.”
Shryock’s five hits tied CSUB’s single-game record accomplished twice by Brandon Boren.
“He’s just on fire,” Kernen said. “They tried to pitch him different ways and there was nothing they could do. He just wore it out.”
“As a team, we had a great approach and it worked for us today,” Shryock said. “We tried to put the ball in play with two strikes and it worked.”
CSUB plays host to USC today at 2 p.m., then hosts Cal State Fullerton Sunday at 2 p.m.