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Game Preview: Point Park vs. RSU

Game Preview: Point Park meets Rogers Stage (Okla.) in NAIA World Series

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. PT

First baseman Steve Dujka is part of an infield that has played well in the NAIA World Series

No. 7 seed Point Park (53-10) vs. No. 9 seed Rogers State (Okla.) (47-15)
May 29, 2012 at 12 p.m. PT -- NAIA World Series (Loser Eliminated)
Harris Field (Lewiston, Idaho)

LEWISTON, Idaho – Point Park University has made it to the final six teams of the NAIA World Series and is one of four teams in the loser’s bracket that will fight to stay alive on Tuesday, May 29 in Lewiston, Idaho.

The Pioneers (53-10), the No. 7 seed, will play No. 9 seed Rogers State University (Okla.) (47-10) on Tuesday at 12 p.m. PT. Point Park is ranked No. 12 in the NAIA Top 25, and Rogers State is ranked No. 23.

The Point Park-Rogers State loser will be eliminated. Both teams are 2-1 so far in the 10-team, double-elimination tournament. The event continues through June 1.

With a win over Rogers State, Point Park would advance to the semifinals on Wednesday, May 30. The two games that day are scheduled for 3 and 6:30 p.m. with the matchups TBA.

The Point Park-Rogers State 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. Click the link at the top of the page for live coverage.

Point Park students, faculty, staff and fans back home in Pittsburgh are invited to gather in The Point Cafe to view the video feed of the game on May 29 versus Rogers State. Game time is 3 p.m. ET. The view feed will be shown a big screen free of charge for the viewing pleasure of the campus community. The video feed is $9.95 if you buy it on your own. The Point Cafe will be offering specials on smoothies during the game. Buy one today!

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 stayed alive with its 12-8 win over No. 8 seed USC Beaufort on Monday.

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.

Rogers State pitched its way to a 2-0 start at the NAIA World Series. The Hillcats beat USC Beaufort, 3-2, with one in the eighth and two in the ninth in the first round. They followed that with a 2-1 upset of No. 1 seed LSU-Shreveport on Day 2. RSU fell to the loser’s bracket with Monday’s 8-6 loss to Tennessee Wesleyan.

Point Park is 10-10 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.

The Pioneers are 53-10, and their 64th game will continue to extend the team record for most games played in a season. The previous high was set by the 1986 team that was 51-8. The 1986 team also held the previous record for wins in a season before being passed this year.

Point Park has been carried by its pitching staff at times this year, and its staff has been solid thus far in the World Series. Due to get a start in their fourth World Series game is sophomore right-hander Manny Perdomo (7-0, 1.47 ERA). The Hialeah, Fla., native has made nine starts and pitched 55 innings. He has 43 strikeouts and 22 walks, and opponents hit .179 off of him.

Perdomo transferred this year from St. Thomas (Fla.), where he spent his freshman season last year. He was 3-6 with a 3.46 ERA at STU and went 4.2 innings in an NAIA Opening Round second round game for the Bobcats.

This year for Point Park, Perdomo has been used as a fourth or fifth starter. His last start came May 3 versus Indiana Southeast in the Unaffiliated Group No. 1 Tournament in Kinston, N.C. Perdomo went 8.2 innings with eight strikeouts and one walk to pitch the Pioneers into the tournament finals out of the loser’s bracket. He gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and started the game with seven shutout innings.

So far in the tournament, Point Park has had starters Sean Clark (W, 7 IP), Nate Spohn (L, 3 IP) and Derek Peluso (W, 5 IP) go in order. Clark beat College of Idaho, Spohn lost to Lee, and Peluso beat USC Beaufort.

The Point Park bullpen has given up just one earned run in 12 innings of work across the three World Series games. The Pioneers’ relievers have given up three runs in all and have a tournament ERA of 0.75. That has helped to bring down the ERA of the entire pitching staff, which stands at 4.50 in the tourney.

Reliever Horacio Acosta (3-0, 1.52 ERA, 2 SV) has worked in all three tournament games as the first option in relief. Closer Mike Tullio (6-4, 1.78 ERA, 15 SV) came up big in the win over USC Beaufort when he pitched the final four innings of three-hit, scoreless ball in his only World Series action thus far. Isaiah Marsh (1-3, 5.31 ERA) is a long reliever who went 4.0 innings versus Lee, and he held a powerful Flames lineup scoreless on two hits over four innings.

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. Point Park drew another eight walks versus USC Beaufort and leads the tourney with 17 in all.

Point Park is hitting .281 (27 for 96) in the tournament, which is fourth among the10 teams. The Pioneers are getting on base at a .405 clip in the World Series, which is second only to Tenn. Wesleyan (.447). The Pioneers have just four extra-base hits, which is tied with Rogers State for the fewest among the seven teams that have at least 20 hits.

Leadoff man Tom Birko (.323, 45 RBI) and No. 2 hitter Rob Novia (.332, 42 RBIs) set the table with on-base averages near .450. Lee Bodnar (.338, 50 RBIs) hits third as the leading run producer. Cleanup man Ossie Alfonzo (.270, 39 RBIs) has come on strong in the World Series going 7 for 13 with six RBIs in the three games.

Alfonzo, a sophomore catcher/DH from Hialeah, Fla., is 7 for 13 in the three World Series games, and leads the tournament with 2.0 RBIs per game. Bodnar, a senior third baseman, is hitting over .400 since the first week of April.

The Hillcats are the No. 9 seed in the tournament and gained a lot of attention around the tournament by pitching their way to two victories to start their stay.

Shawn Spainhoward (10-2, 2.71 ERA) and Brandon Bargas (7-3, 3.51 ERA) each pitched outstanding games as the No. 1-2 starters. Spainhoward went the distance in the 3-2 win over USCB. Bargas struck out 18 batters in the 2-1 upset of LSU-Shreveport.

No. 3 starter Kyle Duncan (8-2, 3.28 ERA) took the loss in 4.0 innings versus Tenn. Wesleyan and was one of four RSU pitchers to work in that game. If Spainhoward were to be brought back versus Point Park on Tuesday, he will be working on three days rest.

After those first three starters, it is Eric Faust (9-2, 3.81 ERA) who has made the most starts and has the most innings pitched. He has made 15 appearances and eight starts across 54.1 innings. Faust is giving up a .270 batting average with 57 hits, 44 strikeouts and 13 walks.

The next-most innings pitched comes from Tyler Garner (2-0, 3.03 ERA, 29.2 IP), who pitched three innings in the loss to Tenn. Wesleyan. He has 18 appearances with just two starts. Jacob Wenaas (2-0, 4.50 ERA) has pitched 20 innings in his 10 appearances with five starts.

As a staff, the Hillcats have a 3.12 team ERA in the World Series, which ranks third in the field. That is down from the 3.76 team ERA entering the tournament.

Offensively, RSU carried a solid, .307 team batting average into the tournament. The Hillcats didn’t have much offense their first two games, and trailed Tenn. Wesleyan, 7-1, before a late grand slam cut the deficit to 7-5.

But the Hillcats have had a habit of scoring late, making adjustments at the plate as a game goes on and coming up with ways to make games interesting in the final innings this Series.

Rogers State’s top four hitters in terms of batting average follow right in order in the batting order. Leadoff man Eric Baker hits .391 with four homers and 37 RBIs. No. 2 hitter Hector Rivera comes in at .385 with two homers and 37 RBIs.

The middle of the order features Colton Campbell at .362 with team-highs of seven homers and 54 RBIs. Cleanup man Lance Rymel hits .323 with three homers and 39 RBIs. After those four, there is not a .300 hitter in the lineup although Cody Campbell (.286) has six homers and 46 RBIs as the No. 5 hitter.

LEE (56-9-1) vs. TENN. WESLEYAN (50-11)
The winner’s bracket final features two teams from Tennessee – Lee and Tennessee Wesleyan. The marquee game of Tuesday’s schedule will be at 6:30 p.m. PT and pits the only unbeaten teams left in the tournament.

Lee is the No. 2 seed and has finished no worse than third the last two years. The Flames were lost in the finals in 2008 and 2010. Tennessee is in the World Series for the third time and is 2-0 this year after going 0-2 in each of its previous trips. Both Lee and Tenn. Wesleyan will be guaranteed a spot in the semifinals, although the loser will be facing elimination in its next game.

Besides the Point Park-Rogers State game, the other elimination game will send home one of the top three seeds. That’s because the 3 p.m. PT loser’s bracket game features No. 1 seed LSU-Shreveport vs. No. 3 seed Oklahoma City.

LSU-Shreveport opened with its loss to Rogers State, 2-1, but ousted host Lewis-Clark State, 7-3, on a walk-off grand slam by Devon Grecko in the bottom of the ninth inning on Monday. The Pilots came into the tournament with a .351 batting average, but not only struck out 18 times versus Brandon Bargas of Rogers State, they also trailed LCSC, 3-0, until mounting a comeback.

Oklahoma City opened with a 7-3 win over Lewis-Clark State in a game that featured three homers by the Stars. But OCU’s powerful offense was held to just four hits in a 7-3 loss to Lee Monday night. It didn’t help that the Stars had just as many errors (4) as they did hits in the game. Oklahoma City entered World Series with a robust .352 team batting average and 88 total homers but is hitting a tournament-worst .194 (13 for 67) in Lewiston.

The LSUS-Oklahoma City winner will advance to the semifinals with the loser being eliminated.


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