| WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
»The Roadrunners hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to the Pacific for a three-game series at Klein Family Field in Stockton, California …
THIS WEEK …
Friday, March 11 – vs. Pacific (Stockton, Calif.), 5:00 pm
WCC Network | Live Stats Tickets
Saturday, March 12 – vs. Pacific (Stockton, Calif.)2:00 pm
WCC Network | Live Stats Tickets
Saturday, March 13 – vs. Pacific (Stockton, Calif.)1:00 pm
WCC Network | Live Stats Tickets
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• Game Day Information: Hardt Field | Ticket Information
Bakersfield – The CSU Bakersfield baseball team has lost six of seven, since clinching a series win over Kansas State on Feb. 26, and look to the right the ship on the club’s first extended road swing of the season, which begins Friday night at 5 pm, on the campus of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. The Roadrunners and Tigers will play a three game series at Klein Family Field, with single games also scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The two teams split a four-game series at Hardt Field in 2021, when CSUB overcame an 0-2 series deficit to win the final two games and even the all-time match-up between the two schools at five wins a piece. Pacific holds a 2-1 advantage in games played between the two schools in Stockton.
The third game of last season’s series was perhaps the most dramatic win of the year for Bakersfield. After pitcher Jack Lee saved a run in the top of the ninth by diving to make a catch on an attempted squeeze bunt, first-baseman Tyler Jorgensen belted a two-run walk-off home run to the right field to end the game in the bottom of the frame …
This season, Bakersfield will lean on its starting pitching, off to one of the best starts in program history, to quiet the red-hot bats of the Tiger attack. Benji Caggianelli, Adrian Santa Cruz and Kellen O’Connor will get starts for CSUB against a Pacific offense that is hitting .279, with 20 doubles and 14 home runs in just 12 games.
The Roadrunners are 4-8 overall, while the Tigers sit at 5-7 after a win over UC Davis last Tuesday.
All three games will be broadcast on the WCC Network, with live stats available through PacificTigers.com.
ROADRUNNER QUICK PITCHES …
CSUB starting pitchers have combined for a 3.96 ERA, allowing just 23 earned runs and 50 hits in 52.2 innings pitched, while striking out 56. Bakersfield starters have lasted at least five innings in eight of the team’s 12 starts (67%), after managing to do so in just 16 of 43 starts during the 2021 campaign (37%).
Friday night hurler, Benji Caggianellihas pitched through the fifth in all three of his starts, managing a 2.30 ERA and a .137 average against. Adrian Santa Cruz has made consecutive Saturday starts, and boasts a 1.86 ERA to date, while pitching 9.2 total innings. Kellen O’Connor has a pair of dominant starts in three turns and a 3.78 ERA in a team-high 16.2 innings of work.
The lone blemish for CSUB starters has been the long ball, with all eight opposing home runs coming against the starting pitchers.
HOME IS AT HARDT
CSUB boasts a 33-game home schedule in 2022, including nine home series and four individual midweek opponents. Five of those series are against Big West opponents Cal State Fullerton, Hawaii, UC San Diego, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara, later in the year.
Season tickets and single-game tickets for all CSUB home games can be purchased on GoRunners.com/Tickets or by calling 661.654.BLUE.
CSUB was 12-12 at Hardt Field last season, winning key Big West series against UC Riverside and Cal Poly, while splitting with UC Davis.
CSUB pitchers Cody Tucker, Gabe Ulloa, Matt Comnos and Davonte Butler combined for 16 strikeouts in a 10-6 loss versus Oakland. That total was the most in a single game since the Roadrunners fanned 16 Northern Colorado hitters on April 18, 2019. Ironically, Bakersfield lost that game too, falling to the Bears 9-7 in ten innings. Butler pitched in both games, striking out two batters in each outing.
THE BUTLER’S DONE IT
Davonte Butler returns for his fifth season at CSUB in 2022 to lead a fresh-faced Roadrunner pitching staff. Butler leads all Bakersfield hurlers with 158.1 career innings pitched. With 41.2 more innings pitched this season, Butler would become just the eighth pitcher in school history to reach 200 career innings pitched.
Butler posted his best start of the season in a Tuesday, March 8, loss to California Baptist, allowing just two hits and an earned run over five innings.
Early slumps have turned to early gains for sluggers AJ Miller and Andrew Allanson. Miller is 9-for-23 (.391) in the Roadrunners’ last six games after opening the season in a 3-for-24 (.125) slump, while Allanson used a game-tying ninth inning home run in Utah to jumpstart a 5-for-7 run (.714), which includes a pair of walks. He had opened the season hitting just .172 in his first eight games.
Aaron Casillas leads CSUB with five doubles in the first 12 games of the season, after doubling just six times in 55 career games in 2020 and 2021. Casillas is also the team’s top returning hitter against Pacific, batting 4-for-14 (.286) in last year’s four-game series, with two runs scored and a pair of RBI. Daniel Carrizosa was 2-for-6 in the 2021 UOP series, with an RBI.
Bakersfield ranks among the national leaders in double plays (3rd) and double plays per game (6th) this season, turning 14 twin killings in just 12 games for an average of 1.17 per contest. Both numbers are good enough to lead the Big West. New Mexico ranks first nationally in both categories, with 17 double plays in 12 games (1.42 per game).
Benji Caggianelli ranks among the best pitchers in the country through three starts, posting top-40 statistical results in hits per nine innings (35th. 4.02), strikeouts 39th, 25) and strikeouts per nine innings (37th, 14.36). All three numbers place him second among Big West hurlers.
OTT GETS OUTS
Bakersfield reliever Taylor Ott has allowed just one hit in nine at bats over three relief appearances without allowing an earned run. Ott is the only CSUB pitcher yet to allow an earned run and has held opposing hitters to a .111 average, while fanning three.
Bakersfield native Cory Blackburn is just a redshirt sophomore, despite entering his fourth season as a Roadrunner in 2022. After missing nearly two seasons due to injury, Blackburn came into the year without a hit in just four career at bats. This season, Blackburn has been one of the team’s hottest hits in the early going, forcing his way into the lineup on the strength of a 6-for-18 (.333) start, along with a pair of walks to lift his on- base percentage to .400. He’s also doubled, scored a run and driven in three for CSUB this season.
CSU Bakersfield was picked to finish eighth in the Pre-Season Big West Conference Coaches’ Poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches. The Roadrunners finished with 35 points, sandwiched in a middle of the pack that also includes Cal State Fullerton, Hawai’i, CSUN and UC San Diego. Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly are among the pre-season favorites, while UC Riverside and UC Davis found themselves at the bottom of the poll.
CSUB was picked to finish dead last in 2021, before spending most of the season in the top four. The `Runners stumbled at the finish and ended up in seventh place a season ago.
Three Bakersfield scholar-athletes are working towards graduate degrees during the 2021-22 school year. Fifth-year seniors Kevin Altamirano, Daniel Carrizosa and Kenny Johnson are all taking advantage of COVID eligibility to pursue advanced degrees.
James Bell and AJ Miller both signed with the University of Oregon out of high school and were teammates with the Ducks during the COVID shortened 2020 season. Bell played one season in Eugene and another at Fresno City College before joining the Roadrunners, while Miller spent three seasons at Oregon.
Newcomers Evan Rice and Adrian Santa Cruz were teammates at Phoenix College, leading the Bears to the NJCAA Division II World Series in 2021.
Benji Caggianelli and Gabe Ulloa played together at Bakersfield College in each of the last two seasons.
Four sets of `Runners were high school teammates. Andrew Allanson and Tyler Vargas played together at Quartz Hill High School in Lancaster, Calif., while Matt Kurata and DJ Massey competed at Gahr High School in Cerritos, Calif., Nick Salas and AJ Cleveland played at Highland High School in Bakersfield, Calif., and Aaron Casillas and Michael Pollard were teammates at Mission Viejo High School in Mission Viejo, Calif.
LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD
Bakersfield native and three-year Roadrunner outfielder Jacen Roberson became the 21st CSUB baseball player selected in the Major League Baseball Draft when he was chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 468th choice in the 16th Round. Roberson hit .282 with 10 doubles, three triples and seven home runs last season, earning All-Big West Honorable Mention honors.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT (S) …
• PACIFIC: Pacific’s dangerous offense is led by infielder Colby Canales, who enters with a .394 batting average, including a pair of doubles and three home runs for a robust 1,214 on-base plus slugging total. Brandon Motheral (.361) and Chaz Meyers (.310) are also hitting over .300, while Thomas Gavello and Ben Nemivant match Canales’ home run total to share the team lead. UOP pitchers have turned in a 7.24 ERA to date this season, allowing 109 runs in 12 games this season, with opponents hitting for a .265 average. Elijah Birdson (4.60 ERA, .211 BAA), Hunter Hayes (5.40, .323) and Zach Peterson (6.52, .189) will draw starts for the Tigers this weekend.
LAST TIME OUT …
The Roadrunners dropped a 4-3 decision to visit California Baptist on Tuesday, Mar. 8 at Hardt Field, in front of an announced crowd of 467. Bakersfield let for much of the game, but the Lancers broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth with a lead-off triple and a sacrifice fly to steal a win from their hosts.
2022 Overall Statistics
NEXT WEEK …
Bakersfield (4-8, 0-0 Big West) continues a six-game road trip, and opens the Big West Conference competition, making the trip to UC Riverside (0-0, 0-0) for the first time as conference rivals. The Roadrunners took three of four games from UCR last season to win their first ever Big West series at Hardt Field.
|Friday, Mar. 18||vs. UC Riverside (A)||6:00 PM|
|Saturday, Mar. 19||vs. UC Riverside (A)||6:00 PM|
|Sunday, Mar. 20||vs. UC Riverside (A)||1:00 PM|