LA JOLLA, Calif. – Chico State’s Danny Miller rocked a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to steal the lead and the game from the Dixie State in both teams’ opener in the NCAA West Regional Pod, 5-4.
The Red Storm’s powerful offense could only muster five hits in the loss off of Chico starter Nick Baker and reliever Luke Barker.
The Red Storm climbed out early, scoring three runs in the first inning. Yuto Kata scored on a wild pitch. That was followed by a two-run single by Kris Kaplan.
The Wildcats got on the board in the fourth inning when Ryne Clark singled in the first run. Dixie State matched the run with their next at bat. Dalton Gust was allowed home on a Nick Baker balk.
In the bottom of the inning, Chico was able to finally string some hits together against Red Storm starter John Conquy. With runners at the corners, Connor Huesers hit a single to score one run. Miller then got another base hit to score a second run, pulling the Wildcats to within one run.
Conquy, who normally pitches much deeper into the game, was pulled after five.
“John’s pitch count was pretty high (92) at that point,” said Pfatenhauer. “We were going to pitch Kort Christoffersen for two innings and have Matt Hill close for us. But Kort got hurt in the sixth and could not continue. Matt had to come in early.”
Baker got the win for the Wildcats to move to 10-1. He scattered five hits over eight innings. Barker pitched the ninth inning to pick up his 15th save. Hill took the loss, falling to 2-2.
The loss drops the Red Storm to 35-16 and to the loser’s bracket. They will play Sonoma State at noon Friday in an elimination game.
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