Point Park wins KIAC Baseball Tournament, punches ticket to NAIA national tourney
April 27, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. ET
NEW ALBANY, Ind. -- Point Park University rallied from a 5-1 deficit to beat Indiana Southeast, 8-6, in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament Finals on Saturday, and with the win, the Pioneers earned the KIAC's automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament.
Point Park (38-13, 14-6 KIAC), the top seed in the tournament and the No. 25-ranked team in the NAIA, scored five runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good, 6-5. The Pioneers tacked on a couple of more insurance runs in the later innings, and its bullpen protected the lead with Josh Brooks (3-0) getting the win and Ryan Loutsenhizer his fifth save.
Indiana Southeast (27-27, 12-7 KIAC), the No. 2 seed and tournament host, took control with five runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 5-1 lead. Frank Pluskota delivered the big hit, a three-run double to make it 3-1. Louis Helmburg added an RBI single two batters later, and a run also scored on an error.
Point Park starter Bryan Lopez, a junior from Salinas, Puerto Rico, got the start and took a no-decision in 4.2 innings of work. Lopez, a lefty, did not give up a hit the first four innings as the Pioneers were clinging to a 1-0 lead. But IU Southeast got to him in the fifth with five hits and five runs (four earned.). He struck out five and walked three.
Josh Brooks, a senior set-up man from Phoenix, Ariz., came on in relief of Lopez to get out of the fifth, and he got the win in 2.1 innings. After going down, 5-1, Point Park came back the next half inning with its rally.
The rally started with four straight singles by Jordan Crowell, Javy Marticorena, Marlon Leyva and Tom Birko, the last of which brought home a run. Other runs came home when Ossie Alfonzo was hit by a pitch and when Rob Novia reached on a fielder's choice. An infield error allowed two more runs to score for the 6-5 lead.
Birko, a junior second baseman from Kennedy Twp., Pa., was 2 for 4 with two RBIs, and his run-scoring single in the seventh padded the lead to 7-5. Leyva, a senior first baseman from Miami, Fla., singled and advance to second on a wild pitch to set up the RBI opportunity. Leyva was 3 for 3 with three big runs scored.
Leyva was at it again in the ninth when he singled, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Tom Pasinski's RBI base hit. Pasinski, a senior center fielder from West Mifflin, Pa., was 2 for 5 with an RBI. Don McDuffee also had two hits, and the Pioneers had 11 as a team.
Brooks, who gave up only two hits in 2.1 scoreless innings of relief, struck out four and walked one. He handed the 7-5 lead over to Loutsenhizer, a senior from North Huntingdon, Pa. The only hit that Loutsenhizer gave up was a two-out homer by Justin Hurst in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough. He struck out one and walked one.
Point Park did not get much early on off of IU Southeast starter Joey Harness, who went 5.1 innings and was knocked out during the big rally in the sixth. Harness, a right-hander, gave up only two hits the first five innings and finished with eight strikeouts and one walk. He was charged with five runs (three earned) on six hits.
Point Park's 1-0 lead through four innings was built on McDuffee's run in the top of the first. He led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Chaz Russo, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch. But that was all the Pioneers got until the sixth.
With the win, Point Park took the season series from IU Southeast, 4-2, including two wins in the KIAC Tournament. The Pioneers went a perfect 3-0 through the playoffs with 40 runs scored in the three games. They beat No. 5 seed Brescia (Ky.), 22-4, in the quarterfinals before downing IU Southeast, 10-4, in the winner's bracket final.
Point Park is in the NAIA national tournament for the second year in a row and the 13th time in its 46-year history of baseball. The first stage of the national tournament is the NAIA Opening Round, the regional stage prior to the NAIA World Series.
The Pioneers will learn their pairing and seed in the NAIA Opening Round May 5 when the brackets are released by the national office. The NAIA Opening Round will be played May 9-13 featuring nine regional sites, each with a five-team, double-elimination bracket for a total of 45 teams. The nine regional winners will join host Lewis-Clark State College at the NAIA World Series on May 24-31 in Lewiston, Idaho.
Point Park reached the NAIA World Series for the 11th time in program history last year and finished fifth in the nation with a final record of 53-11. The Pioneers are tied for fourth all-time with their 11 NAIA World Series appearances.