A seven-run first inning and 9-0 lead after six innings Saturday night made it seem like Cal State Bakersfield would hand Seattle its second consecutive lopsided loss.
The Roadrunners won, but it wasn't a laugher. CSUB coach Bill Kernen wasn't smiling after the Roadrunners held on for dear life in an 11-9 Western Athletic Conference victory at Hardt Field.
"But come on -- it's baseball," Kernen said. "This kind of thing happens. Now you see if you rise up."
junior shortstop Tyler Shryock, who had a triple, two singles and scored twice for the Roadrunners, added: "It's not over 'til it's over. That's why you keep battling it out. Stuff does happen."
The win improved the Roadrunners to 33-18 overall and 16-7 in the WAC. CSUB will try to complete a series sweep over Seattle today at noon in the Roadrunners' final home game of the season.
CSUB has a two-game lead with four regular-season games remaining as it tries to secure the top seed in the WAC Tournament later this month. CSUB concludes regular-season play with a three-game series at San Jose State next weekend.
Texas State, which began Saturday one game behind the Roadrunners, fell two games back after losing 6-5 in 14 innings to Texas-Arlington in an afternoon game.
“We’re anxious to get back out there,” Kernen said of today’s game. “If we can get it done, I would feel a lot better about the last weekend.”
The Roadrunners, who tied a school record with eight runs in an inning Friday, scored seven runs in the bottom of the first Saturday.
CSUB sent 11 men to the plate. It was 3-0 before an out was recorded. The inning featured six singles, two walks and an error.
Leadoff batter Oscar Sanay started the rally with a single and capped it with a two-run single.
But the game turned around in the final three innings when the Roadrunner bullpen allowed six runs on seven hits.
Starting pitcher Scott Brattvet, who improved his record to 8-1, was chased in the top of the seventh after Seattle’s first three batters reached base.
A five-run eighth inning pulled the Redhawks (19-31, 8-14 WAC) within 10-8. That inning ended with a spectacular leaping catch by right fielder Chance Gusbeth near the right-field wall with two runners on base. Seattle would have tied the game if Gusbeth didn’t make that play.
“It’s one of the hardest catches,” said Gusbeth, a freshman from Lancaster. “It’s the end of the inning and everyone wants to make a good play and make sure they don’t get it tied up.”
Seattle finished with 15 hits.
“I’ve got to give them credit,” Kernen said. “I never saw a team hit that many balls hard, even in BP (batting practice). I changed pitchers 3-4 times, trying to break the rhythm. ... They played really well. They’ve beaten Oregon and Oregon State, so they’ve played some tough games all year. We don’t take them for granted.
“I told their coach that was the best effort I’ve seen all year by an opponent on this field.”
Shryock and Mylz Jones had three hits apiece to pace CSUB’s 16-hit attack. Sanay, first baseman Dylan Christensen and left fielder Kevin Younger added two hits each.
Christensen also had two spectacular plays on defense during Seattle’s three-run seventh inning.
“Those two plays won the game,” Kernen said. “One of those for sure would have been a double and maybe both.”