Cal State Bakersfield first baseman Sergio Robles showed bunt a few times during his at-bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. But when finally reached back for a full swing, he sealed the win for the Roadrunners.
Robles delivered a two-run double on a line drive to the center field fence to help CSUB (6-9) to a 9-4 win over Fairleigh Dickinson (2-3-1) at Hardt Field on Friday. The Roadrunners scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“Coach talked to me, he said ‘I’m going to give you one (pitch) to work with and if you don't get it you're bunting,” Robles said. “I pulled back on a couple that were balls. It was 3-1 count and coach trusted me with that. I got my fastball up and I took advantage of it.”
CSUB has won four of its last five games. The Roadrunners scored more than four runs for the just the second time in their last 11 games.
The series will continue with games on Saturday (6 p.m.), Sunday (noon) and Monday (noon).
Before Robles’ key hit, CSUB watched a three-run lead shrink to one in the eighth. Roadrunners reliever Davonte Butler forced groundouts on two of the first three batters of the inning. Then trouble hit.
Fairleigh Dickinson’s Evan McDonald grounded into left field for a run-scoring single. After another single, Knights catcher George Rosales hit one the opposite way into right. CSUB’s Noah Barba’s throw home bounced a couple times but was in time. Roadrunners catcher Jake Ortega mishandled the ball, though, and the runner slid in safely.
An error at third loaded the bases before Butler recorded a strikeout to end the inning. CSUB led 5-4 going into the bottom half of the frame.
CSUB’s Noah Barba walked, then Nick Grossman singled on a bunt to the pitcher. The Roadrunners loaded the bases with a walk and Ortega singled in a run. Fairleigh Dickinson switched pitchers only to have Robles drill a double.
Roadrunners second baseman Will Picketts singled in the final run later in the inning.
“When they scored we came back and won the inning,” CSUB head coach Jeremy Beard said. “That was a big deal.”
CSUB starter Darius Vines (2-1) struck out 10 batters in six innings, surrendering two runs on five hits and two walks on his way to the win. It was a hectic start for the right-handed pitcher, who gave up four hits to the first four batters of the game.
Fairleigh Dickinson’s Nate Brodsky singled on a soft line drive into center to start the contest. The second batter, Tom Ruscitti, drilled the first pitch he saw over the 375 feet marker by the flagpole in right-center field.
A line drive into center and a line drive to the warning track in left put runners on second and third with no outs. But Vines buckled down, striking out the next six batters he faced.
After giving up the four consecutive hits and two runs to open his outing, Vines retired 13 straight batters.
“I didn’t really know how this team was going to be,” Vines said. “I was kind of just not really focused, leaving pitches over the plate. A guy put a good swing on one and put it over the fence. I felt like I had to lock it in a little bit more. I got a different mentality coming out of that first inning.”
Butler picked up his first save of the year, recovering to throw a scoreless ninth inning.