Cal State Bakersfield baseball head coach Jeremy Beard knew there would be turbulence in his first season as permanent head coach with a roster filled with more newcomers than returners.
The turbulence certainly came early for the Roadrunners.
CSUB (0-1) dropped its season-opening game to UC Davis (1-0), 8-1, at Hardt Field on Friday night in front of a crowd of 798. The Roadrunners fell behind 8-0 before eventually scoring their first run in the sixth. CSUB was outhit 13-5 in the game.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of good,” Beard said. “We couldn’t get in rhythm all night long. We were flirting with some mistakes early and then we got out of it in the first three innings. It caught up with us in that middle set.”
Sophomore Aaron Charles got the start for CSUB on the mound. He gave up five runs — all earned — and seven hits in his five innings of work. He struck out six batters but also hit four.
UC Davis senior pitcher Matt Blais threw eight innings, giving up just one run on five hits. He only struck out one.
“He did a great job of attacking that low strike,” Beard said of Blais. “The ump was giving him the low strike zone and that’s a tough ball to get to when it’s sinking late. You can be under the radar, too, and he was all night. It was 80-83 with a sink.”
The series will continue on Saturday at 1 p.m. and wrap up Sunday with a noon game.
UC Davis’ Logan Denholm opened the fourth with a liner into center for a single. Charles hit UC Davis center fielder Alex Aguiar on the arm next — his fourth batter hit in the game.
Beard trekked out to mound to chat with Charles and the infield.
It only delayed the eventual Caleb Van Blake double into right-center field that one-hopped to the fence and sent the two base runners home.
Charles checked over to the dugout, possibly seeing if he would remain in the game, but Beard did not budge.
Aggies designated hitter Spencer Gedestad sliced a ball that dropped into shallow right field and Cameron Briggs grounded into a fielder’s choice that pushed Van Blake across the plate.
“Not too much fastball command tonight,” Charles said. “... I think it’s a mechanical thing.”
One inning later, Charles took the mound again and more damage ensued. Two line drives turned into singles. A wild pitch bumped the runners to second and third. Then two fly balls deep into the outfield became sacrifice flies.
Charles was on a pitch count, he said, and exited with 86 under his belt. He fell behind in counts which was “unacceptable,” he said.
“AC obviously didn’t have his best stuff,” Beard said. “... He had a harder time getting out front and finishing pitches. He was a little early with the lower half and late with the upper body. You could see it in his delivery. He just had a hard time making the adjustment tonight.”
Freshman Lewis Dirkes, who started at second and batted second for CSUB, drove in the Roadrunners’ first run of the game. With runners on second and third, Dirkes grounded out to short. Freshman Evan Berkey, who started at shortstop and batted ninth, scored.
Berkey went 2-for-3 at the plate. Right right fielder Sergio Robles and catcher Jake Ortega were the only other Roadrunners with hits.
Kevin Altamirano, another first year player for the Roadrunners, made his first career appearance. He threw the sixth inning, giving up three runs on four hits and two wild pitches.
CSUB starting first baseman Alec Daily made his first appearance for the Roadrunners since May 15, 2015. He came to CSUB as a pitcher but sat out the last two years after having Tommy John surgery.
“They saw what our competition is like so now they know what to expect,” CSUB sophomore leadoff hitter Sergio Robles said of the new players. “It’s a lot of learning here. We’re gonna hit some turbulence throughout the season. Good thing it’s early.”