Failure to come though with the game on the line last season was on Garrett Pierce's mind Friday night.
"I remember I struck out with runners on third and second and didn't get it done. I remember that feeling," said Pierce, a junior outfielder for Cal State Bakersfield.
"I knew I'd get a fastball and I wasn't going to miss it, and I didn't," he added.
Pierce lined an RBI single through a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a three-run rally that lifted CSUB to a 5-4 win over Towson (Md.) University at Hardt Field.
The series continues at 6 p.m. today with Taft High graduate Stephen Gee scheduled to make his collegiate debut for CSUB (4-2). Towson is 3-1.
With two runs in and Logan Trowbridge at third, Pierce fouled off a safety squeeze bunt attempt before lining his game-winning single.
"I thought we'd come back with the safety squeeze, but they moved their first baseman in. Coach gave me the swing away sign," Pierce said.
With CSUB trailing 4-2, Jordie Hein started the rally with a single to center and Oscar Sanay drove an RBI double to the left-center field fence to make it 4-3.
After David Metzgar sacrificed Sanay to third, Trowbridge lined a double to left for the tying RBI.
Two innings earlier with CSUB trailing 4-2 and two runners on, Trowbridge was sent up as a pinch hitter and lined out to right to end the inning.
"I had a good at-bat the time before and hit a line drive but I didn't get the job done," Trowbridge said. "I knew my shot would come."
Soloman Williams lined a single to left, but Trowbridge had to hold momentarily to ensure the ball would fall in front of Kurt Wertz, so he could only reach third. Pierce's hit followed.
Prior to the ninth, CSUB was kept off-balance by Towson's first three pitchers.
"Let's be honest: We have a lot of problems," said CSUB coach Bill Kernen, whose squad lost two road games earlier this week.
"We have plate discipline problems. We're not really a team yet. We don't have much of a feel for battling from the dugout as a group yet. A lot of development has to happen. ...
"We're playing baseball like it's in the school yard somewhere. We need to be a team and we're not a team yet."
But Kernen was quick to add that a comeback win like Friday's can pave the way for the cohesiveness he's searching for.
"This is the kind of thing that makes a team," he said. "When they learn how to battle together and then fight together and see how that feels. That's something they can plug in for another game when we're down a run in the ninth inning."
CSUB scored in the first when Metzgar drew a one-out walk, Chance Gusbeth singled and Pierce had an infield single off the glove of second baseman Pat Fitzgerald.
In the fourth, Nick Vehlewald singled to center and scored from first two batters later when Hein sliced an RBI double that drifted away from left fielder Wertz and landed near the left field line.
CSUB starter Hayden Carter had a rocky second inning when the Tigers sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs. Peter Bowles had an RBI triple and Zach Fisher and Fitzgerald added RBI singles in the inning.
Carter settled down and retired 11 straight batters at one point before Towson added a run in the seventh, Carter's final inning, on three singles and a balk, with Fisher's second RBI hit scoring the run.
The Tigers could have scored more runs but CSUB shortstop pulled the hidden ball trick to tag out Bowles at second base for the second out of the inning. Towson also lost a potential run in the eighth when CSUB left fielder Nick Rogowski threw out Brandon Gonnella at the plate to end the inning.