Pioneers beat Taylor, 3-2, in NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Rd
May 10, 2012
VIDEO: Point Park head coach Loren Torres in a post-game interview posted above.
MARION, Ind. -- Sean Clark gave up only two runs on five hits over seven innings, Mike Tullio picked up a two-inning save, and a suicide squeeze bunt gave No. 12 Point Park University the difference in a 3-2 win over No. 24 Taylor (Ind.) University in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round on Thursday.
It was the first game of the tournament for both teams. No. 2 seed Point Park (49-9, 11-0 AMC) advances to play at 4 p.m. ET Friday versus the No. 5 seed Doane (Neb.) game. Doane upset top seed and defending NAIA World Series champion Concordia (Calif.) (37-17) in the late game on Thursday.
Friday's game versus Doane will be broadcast online with Live Video & Live Audio courtesy of Doane Athletics. Click the links for the broadcasts, which are both free: Live Video, Live Audio (Note: The Video & Audio are seperate broadcasts and both links need to be opened to get both audio and video).
Taylor (37-19, 28-7 MCC), the No. 3 seed, falls to an elimination game versus No. 4 seed Mt. Vernon Nazarene at 12 p.m. Friday. The winner of that survives to play Concordia in another elimination game at 8 p.m.
The tournament is one of nine, five-team double-elimination tournaments that make up the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round. The champion advances to the NAIA World Series.
Clark, a junior from Titusville, Pa., who transferred last year from Duquesne University, shook off an uncharacteristic four walks and scattered five hits in his strong outing. He improved to 8-0 by striking out five and getting a lot of key outs with Taylor base runners aboard.
Taylor, out of the Mid-Central College Conference, left 11 men on base. Clark had entered the game with only six walks in 53 innings all year.
Tullio, a senior from Palm Beach, Fla., picked up his 14th save of the year by working the last two innings to hold on to the 3-2 lead. He gave up one hit and recorded two strikeouts.
Offensively, the Pioneers got eight hits, and senior third baseman Lee Bodnar was 3 for 4 with two doubles. Junior center fielder Tom Pasinski was 2 for 3 with two runs scored, and he came home with the eventual game-winning run on Tom Birko's squeeze bunt in the bottom of the sixth.
With the score tied, 2-2, Pasinski stroked a single to get the Point Park sixth inning going. Don McDuffee drew a four-pitch walk, and the next batter Dillon Sauers, looked like he was going to bounce into a taylormade double play to second base. But the second baseman could not get the handle as everyone was safe.
Birko, a left-handed hitter in the leadoff spot, laid down a perfect squeeze bunt down the thirdbase line. Taylor made a great play to get Birko at first, but Pasinski scored easily and uncontested with the go-ahead run.
Taylor got on the board in the top of the first when Jordan Coffey's RBI single came after a walk and a hit batter.
Point Park tied it up at 1-1 in the second when Pasinski came home to score on a bases-loaded walk. The Pioneers had nobody on and two out in the inning before scraping one across.
Taylor again went up a run with a single tally in the third on a sacrifice fly Ian Nielsen on a ball that nearly went over the fence in left.
Bodnar, who has been on a tear of late, put a great start to the Point Park third when he ripped a double to gap in left. Bodnar went to third on the play when the center fielder made a bobble. Sophomore catcher Ossie Alfonzo followed with a ripped base hit through the right side to score Bodnar and tie things at 2-2.
Taylor starter Ryan Baker (7-3) threw six strong innings, and the crafty lefty had Point Park off balance with a mix of pitches. But he was the victim of two unearned runs and ended up giving up eight hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
Point Park will await the result of the 8 p.m. Thursday game between Doane and defending NAIA World Series champion Concordia (Calif.) (37-16). Doane, the No. 5 seed, beat No. 4 seed Mt. Vernon Nazarene in the first game of the tournament, 7-6, in 11 innings. Concordia had a bye in the first game.
The tournament runs May 10-14 on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind. The tourney champ will be one of nine teams to advance to the NAIA World Series May 25-June 1. Those nine will join World Series host Lewis-Clark State.
Point Park has been to 10 NAIA World Series, which is tied for fifth all-time. But the Pioneers have not been back there since 1998 after going there 10 times the previous 25 years.
Thursday's 3-2 win over Taylor was the 100th at Point Park for third-year head coach Loren Torres. Coach Torres is now 100-48 with the Pioneers. He is 207-152-2 in this his eighth year as a college baseball head coach.