Though Tim Painton knew he was within striking distance of a milestone win, the impact of it still hit him with icy surprise.
Painton, who is currently in the midst of his 26th season as the head baseball coach of Bakersfield College, entered 2021 aware he was on the cusp of earning his 600th win with the Renegades, but says he left it up to his assistant coaches to keep track of when he crossed the threshold.
So when the Renegades completed a doubleheader sweep of Antelope Valley on May 1, Painton was occupied with other things, unaware of the celebratory ambush awaiting him after game two.
"I knew as soon as I got water dumped on me after the game and I had to ride home from Antelope Valley wet," he said. "I knew it was going to happen sometime this year but we were kind of just grinding through COVID and everything else so I was unaware of it the day it happened."
6️⃣0️⃣0️⃣‼️— Renegade Athletics (@GoGadesGo) May 6, 2021
No other coach in Renegade Baseball history has achieved more.
With Saturday’s doubleheader wins over Antelope Valley, Coach P notched wins #599 and #600!
CONGRATS, Coach!! Let’s hear it for a living Renegade legend!#GoGades🔴⚔️ pic.twitter.com/yQjY4zJyrG
Nearly two weeks removed from win No. 600, the winningest coach in program history is deflecting of praise, crediting his players for helping him achieve such a large win total.
"More than anything else, it means I've had an awful lot of good players and good teams," Painton said. "Players win games. Every player that played for this program is part of that 600. My role is to teach and hopefully steer the ship in the right direction."
Things have definitely been heading in the right direction in recent weeks.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Renegades have won 10 of 11 and are riding a six-game win streak heading into a Thursday doubleheader at Ventura.
The Renegades have won in a variety of fashions during that stretch. They overcame a three-run deficit by scoring twice in both the seventh and eighth innings to eek out a 9-8 victory over Mt. San Jacinto on April 24.
They've also won with a pair of shutouts, both behind Eduardo Barraza. Barraza, a Wasco graduate, threw a complete-game, three-hitter in a 4-0 win over Oxnard April 15, then allowed five hits in six innings in a 5-0 win over Antelope Valley April 29.
Barraza (3-0, 0.95) and Bakersfield Christian alum Kyle Langston (2-0, 1.93) are both undefeated with sub-2.00 ERAs so far this season, while Benji Caggianelli, a Ridgeview grad and future Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunner, has three saves and a 1.13 ERA in seven relief appearances.
Pitching has complimented a solid offense led by Matthew Patton, who's found an excellent rhythm in his fourth year of the program. The Liberty High grad enters Thursday hitting .431 and slugging .706 while driving in 16 runs.
The Renegades' improvements were on full display last week. After being shutout by Moorpark in its first two games of the season, BC swept doubleheaders against the Raiders on May 6 and 8, outscoring them 28-12.
Knowing there would be some growing pains after more than a year without any game action, Painton says he's been thrilled to see the way veterans and new players have started to gel, and expects their progress to continue over the final three weeks of the season.
"We've done a good job of just playing baseball since opening weekend," he said. "We had to come up with a team identity, honestly. We've allowed some of the inexperienced players to grow a little bit and a lot of the returning players have carried a big part of the load."
The Renegades play at Ventura tomorrow at noon and 3 p.m. The two teams will meet again in Bakersfield at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.