Bakersfield, Calif. – CSU Bakersfield welcomes UC San Diego to Hardt Field for a three-game Big West Conference series, beginning on Friday evening at 6:05 p.m. and continuing Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The Roadrunners enter the weekend in a bit of a funk, dropping four consecutive games, including a series sweep at the hands of the University of Hawai’i a weekend ago, and look to get back on track against the Tritons, who will making their first ever trip to Bakersfield.
Prior to the Hawai’i series, Bakersfield had been a perfect 3-0 in conference series this season. The `Runners have fallen from second to sixth in the league standings, but a series win over UCSD could just as quickly launch CSUB back into contention. In order to make such a move, Bakersfield will need a resurgence from a starting pitcher staff that was so strong early in the year, when CSUB hurlers routinely pitched into the fifth and sixth innings.
Roadrunner starters have reached the fifth inning in just four of their last eleven starts. CSUB’s staff earned run average is now 5.18, led by starting candidates Jaykob Acosta (3.35 ERA), Benji Caggianelli (3.82) and Kellen O’Connor (4.03), who all rank in the top13 among Big West ERA leaders th is season. Adrian Santa Cruz has also seen a regular turn in the rotation in 2022. Kevin Altamirano continues a resurgent season, and sports the best ERA out of the Bakersfield bullpen with his 2.12 season average.
Jashia Morrissey and AJ Miller continue to lead the CSUB offensive attack, with respective batting averages of .317 and .303, and 14 extra-base hits a piece. Morrissey has been especially strong in Big West play, slashing .436/.577/.769 against conference foes, while Miller is second on the team with five round trippers.James Bell and Aaron Perez have seen their batting averages on the rise of late, with Perez recording four hits in his last two outings.
The Roadrunners took three of four games from UC San Diego in 2021, the lone series meeting between the two programs in history. The two schools each made their Big West debuts a year ago, and will be forever linked by the 2020-21 expansion.
Bakersfield has just three home series remaining on the 2022 schedule, hosting Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara in addition to this weekend’s meeting with UC San Diego, along with trips to Cal Poly, CSUN and UC Irvine.
ROADRUNNER QUICK PITCHES…
O’CONNOR IN COMMAND
CSUB Saturday starter Kellen O’Connor has taken his command of the baseball to another level in 2022 with 49 strikeouts and just eight walks on the season. He’s been even better over his last four starts, pitching into the fifth inning on each occasion and racking up 28 whiffs against just one base on balls.
AJ Miller’s long home run against Hawai’i gave the Bakersfield 21 long balls on the year, and moved the 2022 Roadrunners into the top-five in single-season program history. Last year’s team hit just 23 over the course of the entire season. With 20 games remaining, CSUB is on pace to hit 33 home runs this season, which would rank 3rd all-time.
ACOSTA DOING BUSINESS
Sophomore Jaykob Acosta has allowed just ten earned runs in his last 30.2 IP (2.93 ERA), lowering his season ERA from 4.38 to 3.35 in that span. He’s limited opposing hitters to a .239 average, earning a spot in the CSUB rotation with his recent efforts.
RETURNING TO FORM
Sophomore Benji Caggianelli has slowed of late, but still ranks first in the Big West Conference in opponents’ batting average (.175) and hits allowed (22). A return to form from CSUB’s former Friday night starter would lift the team for the stretch run.
Graduate reliever Kevin Altamirano is enjoying a career year out of the Roadrunner bullpen. Altamirano is on pace for career bests in nearly every pitching category, including already established marks in ERA (2.12), opponents’ batting average (.274) and strikeouts (19)
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Eight Roadrunners already have driven in double digit runs this season, after just six accomplished the feat a season ago. Andrew Allanson leads the team with 27, followed by AJ Miller (23) and Aaron Casillas (22). Nick Salas has eight, while Aaron Perez has come on of late and has seven; both could join the group, which also includes James Bell, Jashia Morrissey, Evan Rice, Bailey Seeger and Angel Saldivar, as early as this weekend.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
CSUB has been excellent in slowing down opposing running games this season, especially of late. Roadrunner catchers have cut down 17 of 42 would-be base stealers (40.5%) along with the run game management of the Bakersfield pitching staff, which has nabbed five more opponents with moves to first base.
A GRAND OLE TIME
Andrew Allanson became the first player in CSUB history to hit a pair of grand slams in a single game, and drove in a program record eight RBI in a loss to Pepperdine. Allanson hit one grand slam from each side of the plate, a feat accomplished just once in MLB history (Bill Mueller, Red Sox, 2003). He has 7 home runs in 2022, tied for the fifth most in CSUB single-season history. He needs one more to move into a T-3rd and two more to move into a T-2nd. Martin Medina holds the `Runner record with 12 in 2010.
BIG WEST SLUGGERS
CSUB centerfielder Jashia Morrissey was named Big West Player of the Week on Monday, Mar. 21, after a standout performance in a series sweep of UC Riverside. Morrissey was 6-for-8, with five walks, a triple, a home run, five runs scored and four RBI. Andrew Allanson made it consecutive weekly honors for Roadrunner sluggers, when he captured the Player of the Week award on Mar. 28. Allanson started his week with a pair of grand slams and eight RBI against Pepperdine, before homering three more times and driving in eight more in a series split with Utah Valley.
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, Hawai’i, UC San Diego, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara, later in the year. Nine home games remain, with season tickets and single-game tickets for all CSUB home contests available for purchase 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.
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.
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)…
• UC San Diego: UC San Diego enters the weekend on the heels of a midweek win over crosstown rival San Diego State, but the Tritons have lost seven of nine since a loss to Long Beach State on Apr. 3. UCSD is 13-22 on the season, with a 4-8 record in the Big West Conference following series with LBSU, Cal Poly, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.
The Tritons have won at least one game in each league series, and took the series with the Dirtbags two games to one. Offensively, UCSD is led by a pair of unrelated Smiths. Freshman Austin Smith leads the Tritons with a .315 batting average and a .423 on-base percentage. He boasts eight doubles and three home runs. Bakersfield native Jalen Smith, a UC Davis transfer, is hitting .306 with 16 extra-base hits. He had nine hit against the `Runners a year ago while playing for the Aggies. Marc Fillia is hitting .296 with a team-high seven home runs.
On the mound, UCSD pitchers have thrown to a 5.73 ERA, led by starter Matthew Dalquist who has limited opponents to a .244 average and sports a 2.11 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched. Izaak Martinez has been the teams best reliever, striking out 23 in 17.2 innings with a 3.57 ERA.
LAST TIME OUT…
Bakersfield suffered a series sweep at the hands of visiting Hawai’i falling from second to sixth in the Big West Conference standings, before dropping a midweek contest at Pepperdine on Tuesday. The Roadrunners now sit 14-20 overall and 7-5 in conference competition.
CSUB continues Big West play and opens a six-game road trip with three games at CSUN beginning 3:00 p.m., on Friday, Apr. 29 at Matador Stadium. The two schools will also play matinee games on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The Matadors swept a four-game series in Bakersfield last season and are 18-16 (7-8) during the 2022 campaign.
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Hawai’i Bests Bakersfield in Series Finale
Roadrunners Tripped Up in Game Two Loss to Hawai’i
Bakersfield Rally Comes Up Short in Loss to Hawai’i
Bakersfield Hosts Hawai’i in Key Big West Conference Set
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