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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Andrew Ayers went 3-for-3 and also walked but the Sacramento State baseball team fell short to CSU Bakersfield, 4-2, on Friday at John Smith Field.

The game was the first Western Athletic Conference contest for both teams. Bakersfield improved to 16-6 overall while the Hornets dropped to 12-9.

Sacramento State scored the first run of the game when Nathan Lukes singled to center to score Ayers from second base. The Roadrunners answered back the following inning with all the runs they would need, scoring three runs on three hits in the inning.

A leadoff double to right by Garrett Pierce was followed by a groundout for the first out of the inning. Dylan Chirstensen then hit a comebacker which deflected off the glove of starting pitcher Ty Nichols and allowed Pierce to score. Christensen was then thrown out trying to steal second for the second out. Kevin Younger walked on four pitches and Tyler Shyrock restarted the rally with a single to left. A walk to Cael Brockmeyer loaded the bases before Mylz Jones walked on four pitches to score a run.

Following the walk, Nichols left the game with a stiff back and was replaced by Zach Morgan. Oscar Sanay tacked on the final run of the inning with a bases-loaded walk  before Morgan forced a line out to end the inning.

Sacramento State earned a run back in the bottom of the third with a sacrifice fly from Chris Lewis which scored Rhys Hoskins from third. The Hornets' had a chance to tie the game in the sixth inning but Ayers, who was running on contact, was doubled-off second base after Lukes lined out to center field.

Bakersfield added an insurance run in the eighth inning on an RBI single from Frank Martinez.

Jeff McKenzie improved to 5-1 on the year with the victory. McKenzie threw 8.0 innings and scattered six hits while striking out seven and walking three. The senior was pushed in numerous at-bats and ended the game throwing 132 pitches. Christensen shifted from designated hitter to pitcher for the ninth inning to record his fifth save.

"We hit some balls hard and had some opportunities but didn't score," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "You've got to tip your hat to them and come back tomorrow."

Nichols dropped to 3-2 with the loss. The sophomore, entered the game having allowed just two walks all season in 24.1 innings, but surrendered four free passes before exiting. Morgan lasted 5.1 innings with four hits and a walk.

Ayers earned half of the team's six hits during the game. The senior is now leading the team with a .328 batting average.

The second game of the series will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. at John Smith Field.