BC 9-2 with WSC play on horizon

Gregory D. Cook

Zak S. Cowan, Editor in Chief

Bakersfield College’s baseball has kicked off its season with a strong start in non-conference play and is ready to compete for a Western State Conference title.

Conference play will commence for the Renegades on March 6 when they head to Valencia to play College of the Canyons.

BC’s record of 9-2 through the first three weeks of the season has the team in high spirits.

“I think, as we’ve gone out and played, this group has gained a little confidence,” said coach Tim Painton. “We’ve kind of gotten a feel of who we are and what we are capable of doing at this point. I feel really good with where we’re at [emotionally].”

At this point last year, the Renegades were 7-4 with conference play approaching. They won seven of their next eight games before finishing the season on a downslide, losing 12 of their last 17.

Painton is confident that this group will not have the same outcome.

According to Painton, the pitching staff has held the team up when their offense was struggling to be consistent.

Starters Tyler Painton and Brad Lindsley have solidified the top of the team’s rotation.

Painton, through his first four starts, is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.17 and 22 strikeouts.

The team’s bullpen has closed out the majority of their victories with ease to back up the strong performances by the starters.

“Our bullpen has been absolutely phenomenal in the early part of the season, and it has really been a major shot in the arm to get us to where we are,” coach Painton said.

Freshman closer Ryan Stapp has four saves in seven appearances with an ERA of 1.64.

Painton said that, although the team’s rotation at the top is set, the coaching staff is still deciding on the third spot and will make a decision before conference play starts.

Establishing a third starter isn’t the only concern for the team.

“We haven’t been very consistent offensively from a team stand point, but fortunately we’ve had individuals step up and have good days at the right time,” Painton said. “We’re kind of searching a little bit right now to find that group of people that can give us the consistency we are looking for.”

BC is batting .281 as a team. Individually, third baseman Elijah Trail is hitting .372, and Tyler Painton is hitting .381 from the designated-hitter spot.

The Renegades’ success has come despite their inconsistencies on offense, and Painton and his coaching staff are working on getting all that worked out.

“We have [some time] to kind of get stuff in order … before we start conference play, and hopefully we can do that,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of time with individuals on swing mechanics and trying to get some things ironed out. Hopefully that happens as we head into conference.”

Once conference play starts, the team’s schedule gets much more structured. The team played five games in a six-day span between Feb. 14-19, and even though they went 4-1 in those games, the schedule took its toll.

“That just doesn’t happen in conference,” Painton said. “The focus is a little bit different as opposed to playing two or three games over the course of a weekend. So it allows you to get into a routine that is a little easier to manage and deal with.”