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Chico State Baseball Wins Game 2 of NCAA Tourney with Shutout Victory

Published On: May 18 2013 09:29:17 AM CDT   Updated On: May 18 2013 09:32:02 AM CDT
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ST. GEORGE, Utah -

Austin Prott was persistent, Troy Neiman masterful, and Jeremy Perez a magician. The trio keyed the Chico State baseball team’s 1-0 win against Dixie State on the second day of the NCAA Championship Tournament West Regional at Bruce Hurst Field Friday.

Neiman, Perez and Sean Martin combined on a six-hitter, eliminating host Dixie State from the tournament. Neiman (9-3) outdueled Dixie State starter Sam Friend, who allowed just a run in six and two-thirds.

The lanky righthander retired 15 of 16 batters after surrendering a leadoff single in the first. Neiman worked out of danger in the 5th, 6th and 7th and held the Red Storm hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.

“Troy’s been great for us all year,” said Wildcats Head Coach Dave Taylor. “With weekend guys like we have, if we pitch and play catch we’ll always have a chance.”

Neiman found himself in trouble again in the eighth after a leadoff single and bunt hit, but this time it was Perez who bailed him out. Perez made a nifty play to force the runner at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt. He then got a line-drive double play ball to end the inning.

Perez got the first two outs in the ninth before plunking a hitter. Martin was summoned to try to close it out, and did just that after allowing a base hit that advanced the tying run to third.

Neiman sprinted from the dugout to greet Martin with a hug. It was his second such embrace of the final inning.

“I gave (Perez) a big hug too as soon as he came in the dugout. That was a tough situation to put him in,” said Neiman. “I don’t know if I could do something like that.”

Prott deserved a hug as well. The lefty battled back from an 0-2 count to go 3-2 and then got hit by a pitch to reach base leading off the sixth. He moved to second on a balk and then stole third base before scoring the game-winning run on Jon Peters’ high chopper to third.

“We’ve had some great at-bats over the years and that one is right up there,” said Taylor. “Austin’s been a real selective hitter all year. He laid off that big curveball and had a great at-bat. Then did a real good job of getting to third base.”

Prott also made a trio of tremendous defensive plays. He made a diving catch in the fourth, cut off a ball headed for the corner to hold the runner to a single leading off the eighth, and then ran down what appeared to be a sure double to left-center with one out in the ninth.

Chico State improved to 36-16. Dixie State, led by former Wildcats assistant Chris Pfatenhuaer, finished 32-17.

The Wildcats will take on Grand Canyon Saturday at 10 a.m., Pacific. The winner of that game advances to Championship Sunday. The loser will have to win twice Saturday to advance to Sunday’s action.

Whoever the Wildcats play, Taylor expects them to be ready.

“With 17 seniors on the team I don’t have to say a whole lot any more. They know what’s at stake,” said Taylor. “We have a good feeling going right now and we’re going to ride it out as long as we can.”

GAME NOTES: This is the second straight season Chico State has knocked Dixie State from the postseason…The Wildcats are 3-1 against the Red Storm over the past two seasons in the NCAA Championship Tournament Regional…Neiman lowered his ERA to 1.53, which is the fourth lowest in Chico State single-season history among those with 50 innings pitched her more...Ryne Clark and Pierson Jeremiah went 2-for-4.

Saturday, May 18
Game 7: Chico State vs. Grand Canyon - 10 a.m.
Game 8: Cal State Monterey Bay vs. Sonoma State/Grand Canyon loser - 2 p.m.
Game 9: Winner Game 8 vs. Loser Game 7 - 6 p.m.

Sunday, May 19
Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9 - 10 a.m.
Game 11: If Necessary (Same teams as in Game 10) - 2 p.m.