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No. 24 Point Park beats PSU-Greater Allegheny, 6-4, in "home" opener

March 18, 2015 at 9:10 p.m. ET

Stefan Mrkonja had two hits, two runs and two stolen bases in the 6-4 win over PSU-GA. Photo by Lauren Jones.


WASHINGTON, Pa.  --- Penn State-Greater Allegheny scored early and late, but No. 24 Point Park University did its work in the middle innings and had seven strong innings from its bullpen to come away with a 6-4 win on Wednesday in a non-conference baseball game at CONSOL Energy Park in Washington, Pa.

The scheduled home opener for the Pioneers (11-4) was moved to CONSOL Energy Park due to its turf surface. Point Park fell behind, 2-0, after two innings but eventually built a 6-2 lead after five.

Although PSU-GA (5-4) cut the lead to 6-4 with two runs in the seventh, Point Park had its bullpen close the door for the victory. It was a single, nine-inning game as opposed to the doubleheader of two sevens it was scheduled for.

The Pioneers' bullpen accounted for seven innings pitched and gave up just two runs. Both of those were in the seventh inning versus winning pitcher Anthony Garofalo (1-0), who was in his fifth inning of relief at the time.

A sophomore lefty from Plum High School, Garofalo earned his first collegiate win in the extended relief outing. He allowed five hits over 4.1 innings, struck out five and successfully worked out of some jams that were mostly related to his five walks.

It wasn't until the seventh that any of the free passes by Garofalo came around to score. Before that, he used the strikeout and a double play to end the previous four innings. A couple of walks and Francisco Del Rio's two-run double caught up to him in the PSU-GA seventh to make it a 6-4 game.

But the Pioneers' bullpen still had plenty left as Jake Horew came in to get out of the seventh by retiring the only two batters he faced. Horew then set down the Lions in order in the eighth, including a pair of strikeouts to end the frame.

Zach Zimmerman picked up his first save of the year by pitching a scoreless ninth. Joshua Arroyo's two-out single brought the tying run to the plate, but a groundout ended things to give Point Park a 8-1 lead in the series with PSU-GA since 2011.

Point Park erased the early, 2-0 lead by eventually getting to losing pitcher Eddie Emes (1-2). Oscar Romero cut it to 2-1 with an RBI double in the third. An inning later, an RBI triple by Demetrius Moorer -- his fifth triple in 13 games -- and an RBI single by Stefan Mrkonja gave the Pioneers the lead, 3-2.

The Pioneers took advantage of three errors in the fifth to score two more runs for a 5-2 lead. Then Horew's double with two outs in the sixth padded the advantage to 6-2. Mrkonja, who had two hits, two runs and two stolen bases, had singled and stolen second earlier in the inning.

Point Park had nine hits, and PSU-GA had 10. The Lions got two runs in the second off Pioneers starter Robert Rodriguez. PSU-GA strung together three hits and a walk that inning with Del Rio and Terrance Wroniak driving in the runs with base hits.

The game was a matchup of the top two winningest coaches in the history of Point Park baseball. Point Park's All-time wins leader Mark Jackson is in his first year at PSU-Greater Allegheny as head coach. He was 44-119-4 (.783) from 1984-90 and 1998-02 and went to five NAIA World Series. Pioneers coach Loren Torres is next in the Point Park wins list at 194-88 in his sixth year.

Point Park's next games will be the conference openers as KIAC play begins with a four-game series at Asbury (Ky.) Friday and Saturday. Game times are 1 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday with a doubleheader scheduled for each day in Wilmore, Ky. Asbury athletics will have live stats and live streaming video for fans to follow the action.

Follow the Pioneers on Twitter @PointParkSports and @PPUBaseball