#25 Point Park wins AMC regular season title with victories at Cedarville
April 30, 2011
CEDARVILLE, Ohio -- NAIA #25 Point Park University won two American Mideast Conference baseball games at Cedarville University Saturday by scores of 14-0 (7) and 3-1 to win the AMC regular season title. The Pioneers (36-11, 14-6 AMC) are atop the conference standings after this the final day of the regular season, and they will host the AMC Tournament at Green Tree Park Tuesday-Thursday, May 3-5.
(Note: this story was posted on 4/30/11. On 5/1/11, it was decided that MVNU would host the AMC tourney).
The two victories Saturday came one day after the teams split a couple of games at Point Park Friday. The Pioneers won the series opener, 9-2, to clinch a playoff spot, but Cedarville (30-16, 10-10) won the next game, 4-1. By winning three of four over Cedarville in the weekend series, Point Park is assured that all tiebreakers will go its way in determining that it is alone in first place.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene entered Saturday at 12-6 AMC and won game one of a doubleheader at Malone, 5-4, to reach 13 wins. The result of the second game was not available, but the Cougars would still be behind Point Park even if they finish at 14-6 AMC. The tiebreaker goes in favor of Point Park by virtue of its three wins over Cedarville whereas MVNU only managed the split with the Yellow Jackets.
Point Park was 13-26 last year and was 6-18 and tied for last place in the AMC. Fast forward to this year, and the Pioneers have 23 more victories than a year ago, a AMC regular season championship and an NAIA Top 25 national ranking.
The Pioneers won the AMC regular season only one other time in school history. That was in 2001 when AMC Player of the Year, NAIA All-American and current Major Leaguer for the Detroit Tigers Donnie Kelly led them to a final record of 34-11.
Point Park banged out 15 hits and Sean Clark (W, 5 IP) and Alcibiades Gonzalez (2 IP) combined to limit Cedarville to three hits in winning the first game, 14-0.
Lee Bodnar was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs, Bryce Pfeufer was 3 for 4 with three RBIs and a couple of runs, and Brian Grise, Kyle Lucot and Frank Marko tallied two hits a piece. Marko drove in two runs with a two-run double as Point Park scored four times in the top of the first.
Point Park added three runs on four hits and a walk in the fifth to take a 9-0 lead. Clark (6-2) cruised to that point as he faced only two batters over the minimum in his five innings of work. The sophomore transfer from Duquesne allowed only two base runners -- via harmless singles -- struck out two and walked none.
Cedarville, which was playing a doubleheader for the third day in a row, was short on pitching Regular right fielder Andrew York got the start and went 3.2 innings before turning it over to T.J. Taylor, who had worked in Thursday's games.
In the second game, Point Park got a couple of runs in the first and took advantage of some sloppy defense for its final run in the third, and that's all the offense it needed. Pfeuffer stroked a two-run single for Point Park's early, 2-0 lead. In the third, Zach O'Neal was hit by a pitch, stole second and came around to score on a couple of errors.
Freshman right-hander James Monroe got the start and combined with junior reliever Ben Rodriguez to make the three runs stand up. Monroe went the first three innings with three strikeouts, no walks and only one hit allowed. He had two 1-2-3 innings and left the game with a 3-0 lead.
Rodriguez (5-0) got the victory after pitching the last four innings without giving up a run. He struck out one, walked none and yielded five hits. With Rodriguez coming on, it allowed Monroe to take an early exit in an effort to save his arm, as much was the case with game-one starter Clark.
Clark cruised through his five innings with little trouble put up by Cedarville. Likewise, Monroe should be well situated for the AMC Tournament. Also relatively fresh will be Ryan Loutsenhizer, who worked five innings in Friday's nightcap. He was being monitored on a pitch count and was lifted with Point Park trailing, 2-1, through five. The other top starter is Derek Peluso, who worked seven strong innings to win Friday's opener, the game that guaranteed the Pioneers a playoff spot. He is not as fresh as the others, but day two of the tourney will be four days rest.
Check the Point Park athletic website for information about the tournament in coming days.