RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Pressure has been in short supply for California Baptist University early on this season. The Lancers got a small taste of it and responded well to complete the season-series sweep of Cal State San Bernardino with a 3-1 road win Saturday.
For just the second time this season, CBU found itself down after the Coyotes scratched out a first-inning run. Despite the position, the Lancers handled it well and scored two runs in the third and fourth to take control and added some insurance in the eighth for the victory.
David Herd continued the trend of CBU’s dominant pitching and picked up his second win in as many starts. The junior right-hander threw 7.2 innings and allowed seven hits, one walk, one run and struck out five.
“When you’re on the road, you have to make some minor adjustments to how you throw off the mound,” Herd said. “Once we found the curveball and slider in between innings, things just got easier – having those extra pitches to throw for strikes does that. My curveball was really good today and kept them off balance.”
CSUSB falls to 0-5, while the Lancers improve to 6-0. When it came to explaining the reason for the team’s success, Herd made it all sound very simple.
“We’ve actually been staying loose, enjoying baseball and remembering what we’ve been taught,” he said. “We prepared really hard in the fall, got all the work in we needed to do, plus some extra. I’d say we’re doing well because we have guys on the team that keep us loose and relaxed, and I think that’s the most important part.”
Jake Arledge had just as great an impact on the game as Herd. The leadoff hitter went 1-for-3 with two runs batted in and a sacrifice fly and also made the defensive play of the day for CBU.
With one out and one on in the bottom of the eighth and the Lancers holding their 3-1 lead, The Coyotes' Trevor McMaster rifled a shot into the left-center gap. Arledge got a great jump on the ball, though, and tracked it down for the second out.
“I let go of that ball and I saw he put a good swing on it and thought, ‘Oh no,’” Herd said, “but I saw Jake and he was just running and running. He came down with it and that was huge, I was really excited – what a relief.”
Herd was then relieved by Josh Ferrell, who struck out the first-and-only batter he faced to end the inning. Caleb Dirks pitched a lights-out bottom of the ninth, logging two strikeouts, for his first save of the year.
The Coyotes got three of their seven hits and one run in the first inning. Two innings later, Stephen Lohr tied things up with a two-out RBI single into right field for the Lancers. The hit scored Andy Crowley, who singled aboard with one out, and moved to second on a walk to Blair Moore.
“It’s fun to play in these close games to see who’s going to come up in these situations,” Herd said. “In the first inning, they kind of tested us but we just kept fighting, got back in it and held them. The offense came out and did what they needed to do, got back to the small ball and got hits where we needed them.”
Consecutive one-out doubles from Andrew Montoya and Arledge gave CBU its first lead, 2-1, in the top of the fourth. The Lancers were not content with a one-run advantage and went on to scratch out another tally in the top of the eighth. Taylor Wetzel led things off with a double down the left-field line, busting it out of the box for an extra base after the ball stopped in no-man’s land.
Wetzel gave way to pinch runner Zack Norris, who moved to third on a well-placed sacrifice bunt from Montoya. Arledge drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly in deep left field.
“That extra run definitely changes things,” Herd said. “Instead of being so fine with everything you can just go after it. We’ve been playing really good defense, so it’s nice to be able to trust the guys behind you to get the job done.”
CBU returns home for four more non-conference games with Saint Martin’s Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s games are scheduled for 6 p.m., with Saturday taking place at noon.