ST. GEORGE – Sam Friend has thrown 15.2 innings of regional baseball competition against Chico State over the past two seasons. Last year in Oregon, Friend kept the DSU season alive with a complete game gem. Friday afternoon at Bruce Hurst Field, Friend once again allowed one run to the Wildcats.
Unfortunately, it was the only run scored. Chico State defeated Dixie State, 1-0, advancing the Wildcats further along in the winner’s bracket of the 2013 NCAA West Baseball Regional Tournament while simultaneously ending the Red Storm campaign for a second consecutive year.
The senior southpaw surrendered one run on six hits over 6.2 innings while another senior, Bryce Anderson, faced just one batter over the minimum in his 1.1 innings of work.
“There were two good guys on the mound today,” head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said.
The former Chico State assistant, in his first year as the lead man at DSU, knew full well how tough the Wildcats would be.
Pfatenhauer said: “I know Coach Taylor and their program. They are not going to give in and give you something easy to hit. A couple of our guys pressed at the plate, but our pitching gave us a shot today.”
For as solid as Friend pitched, Troy Neiman of Chico State was equally as impressive. He allowed only a pair of hits to Jordan Hanley over the first three innings, retiring 14 of 15 batters during the stretch. Neiman scattered five hits and struck out three in his seven innings.
From the sixth inning until the end of the game, the Red Storm had numerous chances to push across a run. In the sixth, Yuto Kata reached on an error, but was stranded at third base. The next frame began with a Cedric Johnson double, a walk to Mitch Manning and a ground ball to advance both runners 90 feet. Neiman struck out pinch hitter D.J. Andrade to end the threat.
Kata and Hanley led off the eighth with consecutive singles, forcing the Wildcats to the bullpen. Chico State went with left-hander Jeremy Perez to face Colton Yack. Perez forced out Kata at third base after beautifully fielding an attempted sacrifice bunt by Yack. Kevin Kline laced a pitch right toward second base that Pierson Jeremiah snagged on a line drive to double off Hanley cutting down another DSU rally.
One last chance developed with two outs in the ninth. Manning was plunked by a Perez pitch and pinch run for by Matt Medina. Pinch hitter Ryan Wescott singled off Chico reliever Sean Martin, advancing Medina to third base. Andrade, given another chance with the tying run 90 feet away, bounced a ball to shortstop for the final out.
Chico State will play Grand Canyon for the right to advance to Championship Sunday. The Lopes downed Sonoma State, 6-2 late Friday.
Dixie State ended its year with a 32-17 record, a third place finish in the Pacific West Conference and a second straight appearance in the NCAA West Regional.
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