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  • Wildcats claw back to win NCAA opener, 5-4
    by kcsg.com news
    Published - 05/16/14 - 09:25 AM | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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    (LA JOLLA, Calif.) – (+VIDEO) - Sometimes in the game of baseball, you want one pitch back. Thursday afternoon at Triton Ballpark, senior reliever Matt Hill offered a 1-1 pitch to Chico State outfielder Danny Miller that lifted a letter-high fastball over the wall in right field to give the Wildcats their first lead. With three quick outs from West Region Reliever of the Year Luke Barker, Chico State held off Dixie State, 5-4, in opening day action of the NCAA Division II West Baseball Regional.

    Miller's heroics came three innings after his pinch-hit RBI single closed the Wildcats (40-13) within a run.

    Dixie State falls to 35-16 and into the one-loss bracket.

    The Red Storm hung three runs in the first off West Region Pitcher of the Year, Nick Baker. Yuto Kata bounced a single up the middle with one out. Kevin Kline and Tyler Blair each drew two-out walks; a rarity for Baker who had allowed 11 free passes all season. With Kris Kaplan at the plate, Baker uncorked a wild pitch that scored Kata from third. On the next pitch, Kaplan singled to right center plating two for a 3-0 lead.

    The Wildcats loaded the bags in the bottom of the first and had two more runners stranded in the second against Storm starting pitcher John Conquy.

    The senior pitcher flirted with danger early, but didn't surrender a run until the fourth. Ryne Clark lined a sharp single to left field, plating Cody Slader.

    Dixie State responded in the top half of the fifth. Dalton Gust reached being hit by a pitch with one out. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and reached third on an infield single from Drew McLaughlin. Both runners advanced 90 feet when Baker balked on a pickoff attempt. Gust's run made the DSU lead 4-1.

    A pair of ducksnort RBI singles from Connor Huesers and Miller trimmed Dixie State's advantage to 4-3.

    Defense then became the name of the game. Kody Christofferson pitched the sixth inning in relief of Conquy and made a hockey-like skate save on a grounder up the middle. The ricochet bounced to Kata at third who completed the 1-5-3 putout with a strong throw.

    DSU had two chances in the seventh and eight innings, respectively, to plate insurance runs, but the Wildcat defense stymied both rallies. With Donald Glover at third base in the seventh, Gust ripped a grounder that looked destined for extra bases down the left field line. Chico's Ruben Padilla had other ideas by stabbing the sharp grounder with a backhand and gunning down Gust across the diamond.

    McLaughlin singled to lead off the eighth and reached third on a sacrifice Kata bunt and a Trey Kamachi grounder. Kline had the opportunity this time, but his hard hit grounder to short was picked by Slader. The Chico defense set up the Miller heroics in the bottom half of the frame.

    Nick Baker earned the win (10-1) despite leaving the mound in the eighth behind. He allowed four runs, all earned, on five hits. Barker (15) retired the side in order to close out the game.

    Chico State will face California Baptist in the winner's bracket on Friday. The Lancers downed Cal Poly Pomona, 5-3, to open the Regional.

    Chico State 5, Dixie State 4 (May 15, 2014 at La Jolla, CA)

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dixie State......... 300 010 000 - 4 5 2 (35-16)

    Chico State......... 000 120 02X - 5 10 1 (40-13)

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Pitchers: Dixie State - Conquy, John; Christoffersen, Kort(6); Hill, Matt(7) and Johnson, Ty.

    Chico State - BAKER, Nick; BARKER, Luke(9) and MILLER, Peter.

    Win-BAKER, Nick(10-1) Save-BARKER, Luke(15) Loss-Hill, Matt(2-2) T-2:05 A-212

    HR CSUC - MILLER, Danny (1).

    Weather: 97 degrees, sunny and hot

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