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GAME PREVIEW: Point Park takes on USCB in NAIA World Series elimination game

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 9:30 p.m. PT

Ossie Alfonzo is 5 for 9 (.555) in the two World Series games thus far. Photo by Kevin Taylor

Point Park (52-10) vs. South Carolina Beaufort (41-18)
May 28, 2012 at 9 a.m. PT –- Loser Eliminated
Harris Field (Lewiston, Idaho)
NAIA Rankings (May 6): Point Park No. 12, Lee No. 2
ON-AIR: Live Video courtesy of NAIA and NeuLion ($9.95); Live Radio via KOZE-Sports.com (Fee)


LEWISTON, Idaho – Point Park University will face its first elimination game of the 2012 NAIA World Series when it takes on the University of South Carolina Beaufort at Harris Field on Monday at 9 a.m. PT.

Point Park (52-10) is the No. 7 seed in the 10-team bracket, and South Carolina Beaufort (41-18) is the No. 8 seed. Point Park was ranked No. 12 in the Final NAIA Top 25 Poll, and USCB was ranked No. 15.

Both teams are 1-1 so far in the tournament and will look to advance in the loser’s bracket. The tournament continues through June 1 in Lewiston, Idaho.

The Point Park-USCB winner will move on to play on Tuesday at 12 p.m. PT versus the loser of the No. 4 Tennessee Wesleyan vs. No. 9 Rogers State (Okla.) game.

The Point Park-USCB game and all games of the NAIA World Series will be broadcast live on pay-per-view, online video courtesy of the NAIA and its video-streaming partner NeuLion. Internet radio from KOZE-Sports.com and live stats from the NAIA will also be provided with both of those being free of charge. For links to live coverage, click the link at the top of this page.

Point Park opened the tournament on Friday with a 7-3 win over No. 10 seed College of Idaho (41-21). The Pioneers followed that up with a 9-3 loss to No. 2 seed Lee (55-9-1) on Saturday to fall into the loser’s bracket. Point Park punched its ticket to the NAIA national tournament with at-large bid No. 4 handed out by the NAIA. The Pioneers then won the Marion, Ind., bracket of the NAIA Opening Round with a perfect, 3-0 record to get to their 11 World Series.

South Carolina Beaufort was stung with a tough, 3-2 loss to No. 9 seed Rogers State (Okla.) in the first round of the World Series but bounced back for a 7-2 win over No. 5 seed Embry Riddle (Fla.) in an elimination game on Saturday. The Sand Sharks gained entry into the NAIA Opening Round as a host team and then won their home bracket as the No. 3 seed. USCB started the regional stage with a loss and then ran off five straight wins to reach Lewiston for the first time.

Point Park is 9-10 all-time in elimination games at the World Series. Point Park has just two World Series wins that were not elimination games – Friday’s opening win over College of Idaho and its first game of the 1978 Series, a 3-1 win over Coastal Carolina. Since USCB is in the World Series for the first time, it is 1-0 in elimination games and 1-1 all-time in the tournament.

The Pioneers have used strong pitching to get to the World Series, and they still have a few strong arms who have yet to make a start. Senior right-hander Derek Peluso (9-1, 2.23) was the AMC Pitcher of the Year and will likely start versus USCB. Peluso, from Zelienople, Pa., has worked in 13 games with 12 starts over 72.2 innings. He has totaled 73 strikeouts and 22 walks, and opponents are hitting .241 against him. He is a four-year starter and the All-AMC first-teamer was voted the Team Co-MVP by the coaching staff.

Also still available is Manny Perdomo (7-0, 1.47), a sophomore right-hander who transferred this year from St. Thomas (Fla.). Perdomo has made nine starts with a total of 55 innings pitched.

The Point Park bullpen has not been charged with a run in eight innings of work thus far in the World Series. Horacio Acosta (3-0, 1.41 ERA, 2 SV) has been the top option out of the bullpen thus far in the tournament and has worked in both games. Isaiah Marsh (1-3, 5.31 ERA) is an extended reliever who held a powerful Lee (Tenn.) lineup scoreless on two hits for four innings of relief on Saturday.

Point Park entered the tournament ranking 17th in the NAIA with 7.4 runs per game. The Pioneers’ offense gets a big boost from drawing a lot of walks – nearly five per game – and getting on-base at a .431 pace entering the Series.

The Pioneers don’t have a lot of power, but they rely on timely hitting to get runners in. Point Park spreads the RBIs around the lineup as eight players have driven in 25 or more runs. Point Park drew seven walks versus Lee, but was unable to key the hits as it left 10 on base.

Leadoff man Tom Birko (.333, 44 RBI) and No. 2 hitter Rob Novia (.330, 42 RBIs) set the table with on-base averages near .450. Lee Bodnar (.332, 48 RBIs) hits third as the leading run producer. Cleanup man Ossie Alfonzo (.266, 36 RBIs) has come on strong in the World Series going 5 for 9 with three RBIs in the two games.

The Sand Sharks are 41-18 overall, and they have come on strong early in their program’s history. USCB is in just its fourth year sponsoring a baseball team, and it has already been to the NAIA Opening Round twice and the World Series for the first time this year. The Sand Sharks are members of The Sun Conference, and they’ve become one of the stronger teams in that league.

USCB is not overwhelming talented in any area, but they are solid all around. The Sand Sharks had a modest .301 team batting average and a respectable 3.31 team ERA entering the World Series. USCB is also solid in the field with a .959 fielding percentage.

On the mound, the Sand Sharks have two pitchers who have taken a majority of the starts, and each of those got a start already in the tournament. Top starter Michael Heesch (9-3, 2.21 ERA, 18 GS) pitched 8.1 innings and took the loss in the first-round defeat to Rogers State. Adam Miller (105, 2.98, 17 GS) got the win over Embry Riddle with eight strong innings.

The third starter to get a call will likely be Miles Galvin (6-0, 3.66 ERA, 4 GS), who was used in the third game of the NAIA Opening Round. Just four of Galvin’s 14 appearances have come as a starter, but he has been used in the starting rotation late in the year including a win over top seed Faulkner (Ala.) in the regional tournament.

The Sand Sharks also have available Kyle McCullough (3-1, 3.46 ERA), who has had nine of his 10 appearances come as a starter. Closer Colton Rudd (2-2, 3.34 ERA, 5 SV) has come on in the ninth inning of both World Series games thus far. Andrew Barrineau (4-1, 2.98, 19 G) and  Matt Barger (0-0, 3.09, 10 G) are the other capable options out of the bullpen.

Offensively, catcher Dylan Nasiatka entered the tournament with a batting average of .335 to lead all regulars. Left fielder Ty Main was hitting .317 with five homers and 35 RBIs entering the tournament. He recently moved from leadoff to cleanup in the order.

Second baseman Gabe Torres (.330, 20 RBIs), outfielder R.J. Neal (.325, 23 RBIs), designated hitter Conald Mansfield (.311, 35 RBIs) and third baseman David O’Niel (.300, 30 RBIs) are other starters hitting over .300 but have just two homers combined with one apiece for Mansfield and O’Neil.

Fans in the Pittsburgh area may recognize the name of the coach who built the USCB baseball program the first three years of its existence – Rick Sofield. That’s because Sofield is the current manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A affiliate the West Virginia Power. He coached USCB for its first three years before taking the job with the Power in November 2011.

The Sand Sharks have a camouflage jersey in their wardrobe, and they have taken on the strategy of wearing them in elimination situations. So far, USCB has not lost when wearing them in that instance, including Saturday’s win over Embry Riddle. The strategy started when the Sand Sharks went to the camo jerseys when they won five straight elimination games in the NAIA Opening Round after a first-round loss. That luck has earned the jerseys the moniker, the “Can’t Lose Camos.”


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