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NCAA Division II teams like Cary for baseball venue

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NCAA Division II teams like Cary for baseball venue

BY TOM SHANAHAN - CORRESPONDENT

CARY -- Chico State head coach Dave Taylor knows the exhilaration of winning NCAA Division II baseball titles as an assistant for the California school from the 1997 and 1999 tournaments played in Montgomery, Ala.

On Taylor’s first trip to Cary this year as the site of the Division II World Series, Chico State was bounced from the double-elimination event with a second straight loss in three days when the 12th-ranked Wildcats (40-11) fell 6-5 to No. 3 Minnesota State Mankato (49-12) on Monday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.

But Taylor doesn’t hope to get back to Montgomery over Cary the next time he guides his program to a Division II World Series. He’ll take comfort over superstition.

“Comparatively speaking – and not that Montgomery was horrible – this is a big upgrade for Division II baseball,” Taylor said.

“Driving back and forth through the Town of Cary, you feel like it’s the Beverly Hills of North Carolina. It’s a very nice area with nice people and the tournament is well run by the USA staff and the NCAA.”

In Monday’s nightcap, No. 9 West Chester (44-10) won its 10th game in a row with a 13-7 victory over No. 14 Southern New Hampshire (43-14). Right fielder Jack Provine hit his first home run of the season, a two-run blast 360 feet to left field in the eighth inning, to lift the Rams.

MSU-Mankato and Southern New Hampshire play an elimination game at 3 p.m. Wednesday. West Chester enjoys two days off while awaiting the MSU-Mankato-Southern New Hampshire winner in a 7 p.m. Thursday semifinal round matchup.

The week-long, eight-team tournament, which concludes Saturday, is being played in Cary for the fourth straight year.

Top-ranked St. Mary’s (48-10) of San Antonio faces No. 11 Indianapolis (46-15) at noon in an elimination game, and No. 4 Catawba (44-15) and No. 2 Delta State (47-13) meet at 4 p.m.

Cary’s 2012 World Series is the first year of a two-year contract between the NCAA and the joint sponsors, the Town of Cary and Mount Olive College.

The NCAA prefers two-year deals, but based on the parade of coaches stating in post-game interviews they hope the event remains in Cary, the Division II World Series could stay in the Triangle for a while.

Nate Salant is in his 20th year as the commissioner of the Gulf South Conference with offices based in Birmingham, Ala., but even he would prefer to see the tournament remain in Cary.

He explained the teams like Cary because it offers three practice fields behind Coleman Field that provide superior playing and practice conditions. Montgomery used a rundown Patterson Field for games, and teams shuttled to local colleges and high schools for practice time.

“The NCAA wants the student-athletes to have a great experience,” Salant said. “They’re having a great experience here. The area presents a lot of advantages.”

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