The Bakersfield College baseball built an early 7-0 lead and then held on to beat visiting West LA College, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon. Renegades starting pitcher Nathan Ortiz allowed four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings pitched to earn the win, BC's fifth in a row and 12th in its last 16 games. The Renegades offensive attack started off strong, scoring a run in the first inning, five in the second, and one more in the third for a 7-0 lead.
West LA rallied midway through the game, scoring five straight runs to make things interesting before BC added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth for the final margin of victory.
"It was big to jump out early," BC coach Tim Painton said. "Credit to them. They kept fighting. We had to play nine innings to get that one. I felt like our guys competed well and we're happy that we came out on the good side."
The Renegades now lead the Western State-South Conference by a game and a half over second place LA Pierce. The Renegades (18-17, 12-3, WSC-South) and Brahmas (17-15, 11-5 WSC-South) final regular season meeting of the year is scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m. in Woodland Hills. Prior to that, BC has a Tuesday 2:30 p.m. game on the road against West LA, which is now 0-3 versus BC this season.
Ortiz was extremely sharp against the Wildcats early in Saturday's game. The freshman right-hander from Centennial High School, retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and didn't surrender a hit until the fourth inning, when Wildcats designated hitter Josh Sanchez broke up the shutout by hitting a one-out, solo home run, his seventh of the year. Sanchez added a two-run single in seventh that cut the BC lead to 7-5 and brought the end to Ortiz's stint on the mound. That would be as close as West LA (6-29, 2-13 WSC-South) would get as Frankie Villasenor hurled 2 1/3 scoreless innings to nail down the victory and earn his first save of the year.
"I thought Nate pitched very well," Painton said. "That's a very difficult lineup to navigate. They have so many weapons, so many tools. They run exceptionally well and they have some power guys."
Several players had solid days at the plate for BC, most notably Joe Pineda (3 for 5, 2 runs scored) and Kyle Willman (2 for 3, 3 RBI). Both players played a big part in the Renegades breaking the game open by batting around and scoring five runs in the second inning. After making a spectacular diving catch in left field to end to the top of the second inning, Pineda led off the bottom half of the frame with flyball double to left field. Following back-to-back walks by the next two batters, Ashanti Ross (2 for 4, 2 RBI 2 runs), Zach Williams (1 for 3, 2 RBI, 1 run), Willman, and Hector Ruvalcaba (2 for 4) hit four consecutive singles to give BC command of the game.
Saturday's win puts the Renegades over the .500 mark for the first time since February 3, when they beat Reedley to improve to 4-3.
"I don't even care about that at this point," Painton said. "That's fine. I think the biggest thing is, we've done such a really good job of not looking ahead over the conference season. We've put ourselves in a position to do really good things, but we don't get ahead of ourselves. We just play each game and they show up ready to play every day. I'm really proud of that fact."