Merced College's pitching philosophy is a simple one.
Head coach Nate Devine and his staff want the Blue Devils to attack the strike zone, work ahead in the count and allow the defense to make plays behind them.
It's served MC well through its first two contests, allowing just one run on six total hits.
Following the team mantra proved a little more difficult on Tuesday afternoon, however, in a 9-6 loss to visiting Bakersfield.
Five Blue Devils pitchers put themselves in bad spots with eight walks, a hit batter, three errors and allowing the leadoff man aboard in six of the nine innings. Bakersfield took care of the rest, knocking out 14 hits at Blue Devil Field.
"Our motto is to try and get six runs," Devine said. "We win like, 90 percent of the time when we do that.
"But the fact is we just didn't pitch well enough to win. You can't start giving guys free bases and we did a lot of it today."
Even with the rough afternoon on the hill, Merced (2-1) had the winning run at the plate in the ninth.
Trailing 9-5, Ricky McColloch got things going by reaching on an error.
Ryan Emerald then doubled McColloch in with a flare to left that was just missed with a diving effort.
Craig Cumberland put runners on the corners when he lined a single off of relief pitcher Logan Campbell's backside.
After a Matt Farias pop up, Josh Boring walked to load the bases with one out.
The Devils couldn't take advantage, however, and Campbell recorded consecutive outs to end the game.
It was a theme on the afternoon for the MC offense, which put ample pressure on the Bakersfield defense, but couldn't produce the big hit.
MC left 10 men on base, going just 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position. While Devine's squad did manufacture runs, it didn't drive in a run with a hit until Emerald's double in the ninth.
"The offense kept creating chances, but couldn't seem to execute when it mattered," said Farias, who was 2 for 5 with a double and solo home run. "We practice for that ninth-inning scenario all the time, but today we just couldn't get it done."
The Renegades (3-1) opened the scoring on a Kyle Nixon single in the third inning.
MC answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on a Cumberland fielder's choice and a wild pitch.
Bakersfield answered with two in the fourth and McColloch pulled things back even with a sacrifice fly.
The first big blow big in the fifth inning when relief pitcher Mike Nelson walked the first two batters he faced.
Cole Hallum made him pay with an RBI double and Luc Pomales drove in two more with a single.
MC never caught back up.
"I was really pleased with the way the guys fought right to the last out," Devine said. "Hopefully today is just a bump in the road."
Merced Sun Star staff writer Sean Lynch can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or firstname.lastname@example.org