No. 19 Point Park falls to No. 21 Mt. Vernon Nazarene, 8-4, in NAIA Opening Rd
May 12, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Jordan Crowell had a HR, 2B and 3 RBIs for Point Park versus Mt. Vernon Nazarene. Photo by Jackie Eigner.
MARION, Ind. -- No. 21-ranked Mt. Vernon Nazarene University (Ohio) rode a four-run first inning, which was powered by Jake Dickerson's three-run homer, to an 8-4 victory over No. 19-ranked Point Park University in the first round of the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round Monday afternoon at Wildcat Field on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene (43-10), the No. 3 seed, advances in the winner's bracket while Point Park (40-17), the No. 2 seed, falls to the loser's bracket to play No. 4 seed Midland (Neb.) (42-18) in an elimination game Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET.
The five-team, double-elimination tournament continues through Thursday with the champion advancing to the NAIA World Series May 23-30 in Lewiston, Idaho. Mt. Vernon Nazarene will play the winner of No. 1 Georgetown (Ky.) (42-8) and No. 5 Spring Arbor (32-15), a game that will be played Monday night at 8:40 p.m.
After Mt. Vernon Nazarene put up its four-spot in the top of the first, the game versus Point Park was played on even terms the rest of the way. But the Cougars successfully added on in the later innings and had just enough pitching -- which was backed by three double plays -- to hold off Point Park.
Point Park and Mt. Vernon Nazarene are the top two hitting teams in the Marion Bracket with Point Park hitting .340 and MVNU .330 to start the week. The matchup lived up to the billing with MVNU getting its eight runs on 15 hits and Point Park putting up 12 hits.
With plenty of base runners in the game, Point Park ended up leaving only six men on. That's because MVNU turned three, big double plays, each time thwarting a Point Park threat. That, combined with the Cougars tacking on single runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings prevented the Pioneers from ever catching up.
Each starting pitcher was hit fairly well with both winning pitcher Michael Kochheiser (9-2) and losing pitching Manny Perdomo (8-3) giving up 12 hits. And in a game with some near misses on the Point Park side, Dickerson's three-run shot -- his ninth of the year and to deep center field -- loomed large.
Spurned on by a great defensive play by second baseman Tom Birko that saved two runs to the end the top of the fifth, Point Park scored twice in the bottom of the inning to cut the score to 5-2. The first pitch of the Point Park fifth was sent over the left-center field field by Jordan Crowell for his second homer of the year.
The inning continued with Tyler Cattapn and Ossie Alfonzo both singling to set up Birko's sacrifice fly. Crowell was 2 for 4 with a home run, a double and three RBIs. Birko finished 2 for 4 with an RBI to bump his school-record, career hit total to 220.
But Mt. Vernon Nazarene always had an answer starting with Seth Eller's sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth to regain the four-run lead, 6-2. The run was pushed across with a leadoff walk, a sacrific bunt, a bunt single that set up runners at the corners and Eller's sac fly.
Point Park got within 6-3 in the sixth when Javy Marticorena led off with a single, and Crowell came up with a two-out, RBI double. Marticorena was 2 for 4 and scored twice.
But two innings later, the Cougars were again up 8-3 with single runs in the seventh and eighth.
The big hit in the seventh was a pinch-hit, RBI single by Jaime Montero. That followed a lead-off single by Riley Swanson and a sacrifice bunt. The big hit in the eighth was Swanson's run-scoring double, which came after Fila's lead-off single and stolen base.
The middle of the order did the damage for MVNU with the No. 2-6 hitters all having at least two hits. Fila was 3 for 4 with two runs, Swanson was 3 for 5 with two runs and an RBI, and Cory Brown went 3 for 5 with two RBIs. Dickerson ended up 2 for 5 with three RBIs, all on the home run.
Kochheiser went 7.1 innings to get the victory for MVNU. He gave up four runs on 12 hits, struck out three and walked two. Freshman lefty Bryce Arledge pitched the last 1.2 innings and did not give up a hit.
Arledge came in the game with runners at second and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Marticorena had singled, and Michael DeJesus had delivered a one-out double to chase Kochheiser. But Arledge got out of the jam and then retired the Pioneers in order in the ninth.
Perdomo pitched six innings for Point Park. He exited after giving up the lead-off single to Swanson in the seventh. Perdomo was charged with seven runs, struck out six and walked two. Jon Corcoran pitched the final three innings, and he gave up one run on three hits, two strikeouts and one walk.
Point Park will now face Midland (Neb.), a 7-5 loser to No. 5 seed Spring Arbor on Monday, in the first elimination game of the tournament on Tuesday at 12 p.m. Midland is the champion of the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Both teams will try to avoid going 0-2 in the NAIA Opening Round for the second year in a row.
The Point Park-Midland winner will advance in the loser's bracket to play again at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.