The Bakersfield College baseball team clinched a spot in the Southern California Regional Playoffs with a 7-1 victory over visiting LA Valley on Thursday.BC starting pitcher Lane Cowan turned in a brilliant 8 2/3 inning performance as the Renegades clinched at least a tie for the Western State Conference-South championship.BC holds the tie-breaker with LA Pierce, the other team vying for a share of the league title.The Renegades won the season-series against the Brahmas, three games to two. BC can clinch the WSC-South championship out-right by winning its regular season finale versus West LA on Friday. Cowan gave up one run on four hits and one walk before reliever Adam Brown came in with two outs in the ninth to secure victory, snapping a two-game losing streak by the Renegades.
"I thought Lane was outstanding today," BC coach Tim Painton said. "He has battled pitch-count the entire year. His stuff is plenty good. Today he minimized pitches. Really just filled the strike zone up and gave himself a chance to (pitch a complete game). He talked me into the ninth inning. He was at 98 pitches. He said, 'I'm fine. I want to go out. I want to get the shutout.' I gave him 12 pitches to do it. He didn't get in done in 12 so I made the change."
The one run allowed by the BC was a season-best. The Renegades jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Kyle Willman's first-inning RBI double and then broke the game open with five more runs in third. Luke Lewis struck the biggest blow during BC's third-inning scoring outburst. The sophomore second baseman smacked a two-out, two-run double that extended the Renegades lead to 6-0. BC made it 7-0 in sixth inning as Colby Freeman (1 for 4, 1 RBI), Ashanti Ross (1 for 2, 1 run scored), and Zach Williams (1 for 2, 1 run, 1 RBI, 2 walks) sandwiched singles around a sacrifice bunt by Tim Billingsley.
The Monarchs scored their only run of the game in the ninth after Cowan came extremely close to getting the shutout. Following Thomas Keller's one-out single, Brock Bell hit a grounder to shortstop for a potential game-ending double play. However, a slight bobble by BC shortstop Isaac Ramos, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement, allowed the Renegades to only get the force out at second base. Two batters later Jake Shore hit a RBI single off Brown, who then got Jonathan Casteneda to ground out to second to end the game. Willman finished 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Lewis was 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and a run scored. They combined for half of the Renegades' hit total of 10. Defensively BC made no errors.
"I think we've really grown defensively from start to finish," Painton said. "From the beginning of the season to now. Offensively, we came up with timely hits today. We didn't put a ton of hits on the board but Willman drove in a couple of runs early. Came through with guys on base. He's done that all year for us. (In addition to that) Luke Lewis continued to swing a hot bat."