Renegades showing improvement

Austin Toerner enters his wind up to throw a pitch against LA Pierce. BC went on to win 9-7.

J.R. Hensley

Austin Toerner enters his wind up to throw a pitch against LA Pierce. BC went on to win 9-7.

Sam L. Jaime, Sports Editor

The Bakersfield College baseball team appears to have turned a proverbial corner since opening conference play Feb. 25.

In that span, the Renegades have played six games, going 4-2 throughout, bringing their season total to 8-14.

While the overall record might not indicate it, the team has shown a dramatic improvement across the stat sheet.

Errors have decreased dramatically as the season has progressed, dropping from an average of 3.3 per game over the first 10 games, to 1.8 per game since.

The offensive has picked up as well, averaging five runs and 10.5 hits per game, while still managing to draw almost 3.2 walks per contest.

This increase in production has translated into a beefy .297 batting average, and a solid slugging percentage of .429.

“We played a little better. We still have some inconsistencies at times, which every team does. But yeah, we’ve been a little more consistent than we were in the preseason, and that’s what you hope for is growth as the season goes along; so I feel like we’ve grown to some extent at this point,” said BC coach Tim Painton.

“Getting our offense going has lessened the burden on our pitching staff a little bit, there’s a little more wiggle room, a little more breathing room.”

Pitching has been one of the Renegades most consistent components to this point in the season. Through six games of conference play, the pitching staff has averaged 2.8 walks per game and put up a solid 3.33 earned run average.

On the season, the staff has been especially effective with the strikeout, averaging nearly 5.5 per nine innings.

Deeper than those numbers might indicate is how large the workload has been for the pitching staff this season.

Of the 22 games played this season, 14 have been decided by three runs or fewer.

“Pitching is such a big part of this game, pitching is always going to carry a big load. The one thing that you have to guard against is that it’s very difficult to go out and throw a shutout, one run or two runs per nine innings pitched. As we’ve gone along it’s become a bigger and bigger burden for our pitching staff to carry, knowing that they can give up one or two runs, and that’s it,” said Painton. “We’ve lost some guys on the staff due to injury from the fall until now, so it’s ‘Next man up’ and you just keep marching and going and hopefully put the whole thing together, but our pitching has been consistent the whole way though.”

Of those 14 games decided by three runs or less, the Renegades have won seven. For each of those games, Painton believes it’s important to “have a shortterm memory” in baseball, and offered the recent series against LA Mission as an example.

“We are at the tail end of playing LA Mission for the third consecutive time, and as soon as one game is over, you’ve got to turn loose of it and get ready to play two days later. So that short-term memory lasts from a positive perspective and also from the negative. Once you complete a game it’s over, you try and repair any mistakes that you’ve made, but it’s really onto the next one, two days later,” said Painton. With this growth, the team continues its focus on finding and maintaining consistency.

“That is the name of this game. With pitching, offense, and defense if you do two out of the three well in each game, you win. If you only execute one portion of those three major parts of the game, you leave yourself very vulnerable, and if one breaks down completely, you eliminate the opportunity to win. So, we’ve won with pitching and defense at times, and pitching always seems to always be the one component that’s in there, but we’ve broken down defensively, and have been able to overcome our defensive lapses. Hopefully we keep grinding and we keep finding ways to improve, and that’s really all we are trying to do,” said Painton.

Despite conference play signaling the season has surpassed the halfway point, and the postseason looms larger with every recorded inning, Painton manages to keep things in perspective.

“I never look that far ahead. It’s simple, you take care of each week, as we get into these two out of three series, our goal is really simple, win two out of the three. Not that you don’t want to sweep, but I think that in this game it’s very difficult to sweep a team in three games, when those three games are played in a week. So that’s our focus, if we are able to do that, then the rest takes care of itself.”

Looking ahead, the Renegades open a three-game series against LA Valley on March 16 at Gerry Collis Field, beginning at 3 p.m.

BC travels to LA Valley on March 18, and then hosts again March 21. In their previous meeting Feb. 28, the visiting Renegades came away with a 3-2 victory.