Pioneers clinch KIAC Regular Season Title with rally in Game 2 vs. Indiana Southeast
April 14, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. ET
Javy Marticorena races home with the winning run in Game 2 Sunday on Tom Birko's single. Photo by Lyddia Anrkom.
PITTSBURGH -- The Point Park University baseball team put together a sixth-inning rally in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader with Indiana Southeast for a 3-2 victory that clinched the KIAC Regular Season Championship for the Pioneers. Point Park started the day with a 4-2 loss to the Grenadiers, but its late rally in the nightcap forced a 2-2 split in the weekend series, which is what it needed for the conference title.
Point Park (27-13, 14-6 KIAC) has completed its KIAC schedule with a 1.5 game lead over second-place Indiana Southeast (24-22, 12-7 KIAC), which has only one more conference game left. With the KIAC Regular Season title, the Pioneers will be the No. 1 seed in the KIAC Tournament April 24-27 at pre-determined site Indiana Southeast.
Point Park needed a 2-2 split in the weekend series with IU Southeast, and it came away with just that after finally getting to Grenadiers closer Evan Bickett in the final game. Bickett, a submarine-throwing righty who had not given up a hit in his two saves earlier in the series, gave up the winning runs on five singles in the Point Park sixth inning of Sunday's final game.
Point Park managed only one run on one hit versus IU Southeast starter Joey Harness in Game 2 Sunday. The Pioneers tied things up at 1-1 in the fifth when Tom Birko walked, reached second on a fielder's choice, moved to third on Ossie Alfonzo's sacrifice and scored on Rob Novia's groundout.
But just as soon as the Pioneers tied it at 1-1, IU Southeast took a 2-1 lead the next half inning when an error, a sacrifice bunt and Sam Burke's two-out hit gave the Grenadiers the lead. Burke's single was the last batter faced by Point Park starter Isaiah Marsh, who gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits over 5.2 innings.
Needing a rally versus Bickett -- who the Pioneers had not solved the entire series -- Jordan Crowell got the Point Park sixth started with a one-out base hit through the right side. Javy Marticorena follwed with a single ripped through the other side, and Marlon Leyva laced a rope to left field to score pinch runner Austin Scotti for the tying run, 2-2.
Birko, who was 1 for 2 with a run and an RBI, then delivered the game-winning hit, a base hit up the middle to score Marticorena with two outs.
Point Park closer Ryan Loutsenhizer (3-0) came in to get the final out of the sixth and worked a 1-2-3 seventh to pick up the win in relief of Marsh.
In Game 1 on Sunday, Indiana Southeast scored three runs in the top of ths sixth to break a 1-1 tie, and the Grenadiers went on to win that one, 4-2.
Trailing, 4-1, in the bottom of the seventh, Point Park had runners at first and second with no outs and already had a run in on Tom Pasinski's single that cut it to 4-2. Marlon Leyva had started the inning with a double, and Birko followed with a hit by pitch as the Pioneers had finally gotten to IU Southeast starter Elliott Fuller.
But Fuller, who gave up two runs on eight hits through six innings, was lifted in favor of cloer Bickett, who got two strikeouts and a groundout in sucession to shut the door.
IU Southeast got three singles in a row to start the sixth inning versus Point Park starter Nathan Sphon. The last of those was an RBI base hit from Alex Potter that made it 2-1. The score was still 2-1 when Sphon was facing the bases loaded with no outs. The sophomore lefty responded with two clutch strikeouts, but pinch hitter Brian Crider delivered what ended up being the difference, a two-run single for a 4-1 lead.
Sphon (2-4) ended up yielding four earned runs with seven strikeouts and four walks in 5.2 innings. Four of the seven hits he gave up came in the sixth. The Point Park offense had eight hits total with Leyva, Don McDuffee and Ossie Alfonzo getting two each.
Point Park next plays on Tuesday at home to West Virginia Tech. Game time is 1 p.m. for a doubleheader on Senior Day.
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