Baseball teams inevitably go through a hitting slump throughout the course of a season, according to Cal State Bakersfield coach Jeremy Beard. The Roadrunners, which went through a string of six straight games when they only scored a combined five runs, happened to occur early on, Beard said.
He thought they had shrugged it off.
But CSUB (13-13) looked like the earlier version of itself in a 9-3 loss to Fresno State (11-7) at Hardt Field on Wednesday night. The Roadrunners put up just three hits and scored only unearned runs.
“You want to be consistent everyday with your approach,” Beard said. “It really starts with the pitcher. What is he offering first? That preparation, stepping into the box knowing what you’re facing before you get in there, is a big deal. I don’t think we had a great idea of what was going on.”
Fresno State took a 14-13 lead in the all-time series. CSUB will play the Bulldogs in Fresno on April 16 and May 7 to finish out the season series.
The Roadrunners will host Western Athletic Conference foe Seattle in a three-game series starting Friday at 6 p.m.
All of the runs CSUB scored came in the seventh inning — when the Roadrunners were down by six — and was gifted it.
Independence High School graduate and Fresno State freshman pitcher Kevin Larson recovered from a hit batter and a walk to start the bottom of the seventh with two outs. CSUB’s Damian Henderson popped up a ball into shallow right-center field that Bulldogs second baseman Matt Ottino dropped.
Two runs scored on the pop up and Roadrunners left fielder Noah Barba grounded down the first base line to push the third run across.
Larson was pulled after 2/3 of an inning, giving up a hit and recording a strikeout.
Other than that inning, the CSUB offense showed little life. None of the 10 pitchers that the Bulldogs trotted out to the mound gave up more than a hit.
“They brought in a lot of different guys,” Beard said. “It’s sometimes hard to get your timing and rhythm but that’s no excuse there we need to take better plate appearances.”
First for Fresno State was McCarthy Tatum, the team’s usual third baseman and leader in batting average and runs batted in. McCarthy had only thrown three innings previously this season and had a 6.00 earned run average.
Tatum finished Wednesday with 2 2/3 innings pitched and just one hit allowed. After getting pulled off the mound, he stayed in the game as the designated hitter and went 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
CSUB starter Noah Cordova came into the game with only 3 1/3 innings pitched on the season in six appearances. Beard hoped a notable opponent like Fresno State would get Cordova’s competitive fire going and evoke a strong performance.
He didn’t give up a run through the first four innings, but let two players reach base in the third and fourth. It finally caught up to him in the fifth.
A pop out, single and sacrifice bunt put a runner on second with two outs. Fresno State’s JT Arruda hit a hard grounder to the right of CSUB second baseman Will Picketts. The fielder got to the ball but couldn’t make the quick play to get it out of his glove and throw across his body.
Cordova walked Carter Bins to load the bases. That brought up Tatum. He delivered with a line drive that rolled to the warning track in left field. Three runs scored on the double.
Two innings later, CSUB gave Tatum a similar opportunity. With the bases loaded, Tatum grounded a ball to short that appeared prime for an inning-ending double play. CSUB shortstop Daniel Carrizosa shuffled to his left and was in position but lifted his glove early. The ball rolled into left-center field and two runs scored.
Fresno State ended the top of the seventh with a 6-0 lead after a sacrifice fly.