Seattle University held the lead during the middle of the game, but CSU Bakersfield came back and then, after the Redhawks tied the contest, took the lead late for a 9-7 victory over Seattle U Sunday afternoon in a Western Athletic Conference baseball game at Hardt Field.
With Seattle U down by two after five innings, Cullen Hendrickson (Auburn, Wash.) notched a double with one out, and Austen Brand (Tacoma, Wash.) drove Hendrickson in with a triple that rolled all the way to the wall after the CSUB outfielder attempted to make a diving catch. For the second time in the game, Landon Cray (Chimacum, Wash.) picked up a crucial two-out hit, a single to right field that drove in Brand with the game-tying run.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Chance Gusbeth reached base on an infield single, hustled to third base on a single down the left field line by Frank Martinez, and scored on a wild pitch to put the Roadrunners back in the lead. CSUB added an insurance run in the eighth inning when Jordan Hein led off with an infield single, advanced one base each on a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, and scored on a single by Dylan Christensen.
For the third straight game, CSU Bakersfield jumped on the scoreboard first, as Oscar Sanay hit the first pitch from Seattle U starter Connor Moore (West Richland, Wash.) up the middle for a single. Sanay advanced to second when a pickoff attempt from Moore was off target, went to third base when Christensen reached base on an error, and scored on a sacrifice fly to deep left field hit by Cael Brockmeyer.
In the top of the third inning, Brand laced a double to left field, and Cray followed with a key two-out hit, a single up the middle that drove in Brand with the game-tying run. Nate Roberts (Silverdale, Wash.) extended the inning with a single to left field, and Ryan Somers (Sammamish, Wash.) drove in Cray with a double through the right side of the infield, giving the Redhawks their first lead of the weekend. Nick Latta (Tacoma, Wash.) increased Seattle U’s lead with a three-run home run that stayed inside the left field foul pole, tying the team lead with his fifth home run of the season.
After Seattle U turned a double play in the bottom of the third inning, Sanay drew a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score when the throw attempting to retire Tyler Shryock got away from the Redhawks. Shryock would advance to second on a wild pitch and come around to score on a single by Christensen, cutting the CSUB deficit to 5-3.
CSU Bakersfield (34-18, 17-7 WAC) pulled ahead in the bottom of the fourth inning, starting when Mylz Jones and Gusbeth led off with back-to-back singles. Jones advanced to third on a lineout to right field and scored on a single to left field by Hein.
After Eric Yardley (Richland, Wash.) replaced Moore, Sanay reached on an infield single, and Shryock followed with a single up the middle, driving in both Gusbeth and Hein. Christensen picked up another RBI, driving in Sanay with a bouncing single into right field to extend CSUB’s lead to 7-5.
“Our starting pitching was just not good this weekend. Even today, after we score five in the top of the third, we give six right back the next two innings,” Seattle U head coach Donny Harrel said. “When you only get five total innings in three games out of your starters, it makes for a long weekend. Our offense battled the last two days, but we fell short.”
Chuck Buchanan was credited with the win for the Roadrunners, pitching three innings of one-hit relief. Yardley took the loss for the Redhawks, giving up nine hits and three runs in 4 1/3 innings on the mound, tying the longest outing of his collegiate career.
Seattle U collected 12 hits during the game, led by a 3-for-4 effort from Somers and two-hit performances by Cray, Roberts, Latta, and Brand. CSU Bakersfield finished with 15 hits, with the top three hitters of Sanay, Shryock, and Christensen going 7-for-13 with four runs scored and five runs batted in. Besides Christensen, Gusbeth also earned three hits in the game for the Roadrunners.
With the loss, Seattle U remains a half-game behind San Jose State for the eighth and final spot in the WAC Baseball Tournament with three conference games remaining for both. The Redhawks will need to win one more game over New Mexico State than the Spartans win over CSU Bakersfield in order to qualify for the postseason tournament and the chance to earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Seattle University (19-32, 8-15 WAC) returns home for the final conference series of the regular season, welcoming New Mexico State for a three-game set starting Thursday, May 16, at 6 p.m. at Bannerwood Park. The Redhawks will also face the Aggies Friday, May 17, at 2 p.m. at Bannerwood Park before the series moves to Courter Field at Bellevue College Saturday, May 18, at 12 noon for the Senior Day contest.