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No. 21 Point Park pitching stymies Brescia in KIAC wins, 9-2 and 2-1

April 11, 2015

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Nate Sphon picked up his 20th career win in the Game 1 victory over Brescia. Photo by Lyddia Ankrom.

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BUTLER, Pa. -- No. 21 Point Park University's pitching shut down Brescia (Ky.) for a pair of KIAC victories on Saturday, 9-2 and 2-1, at Kelly Automotive Park in Butler, Pa.

The Pioneers (27-6, 12-2 KIAC) maintained their lead of 3.0 games for first place in the KIAC standings as Nate Sphon (5-2) and Nolan Krivijanski (5-1) did the work on the mound versus fourth-place Brescia (12-26, 6-8 KIAC).

Sphon, a senior lefty from Greensburg, Pa., picked up his 20th career win with the victory in the opener. Sphon pitched six strong innings to become just the seventh pitcher in the 48-year history of Point Park baseball to win 20 games in his career.

Sphon struck out six, walked two and made just one mistake in his outing -- a two-run homer to Christian McHatton that cut the Point Park lead to 4-2 in the third. But that was the only damage made on Brescia's five hits.

Krivijanski, a junior right-hander and a graduate of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, picked up where Sphon left off to win a pitcher's duel with Bryce Wilz, 2-1, in the nightcap. Krivijanski also went six innings and gave up no earned runs. He yielded only two hits, struck out four and walked two, one of which was intentional.

Point Park had plenty of hitting in the first game in support of Sphon. Andy Chacon and Demetrius Moorer had two hits apiece to lead the way. A pair of four-run innings in the second and fourth stretched out the lead.

Jake Horew and Shane Conley each ripped a two-run single in the second inning to build the 4-0 lead. Those were two of the four hits in the inning. Chacon's RBI double in the third bumped the lead to 5-2 before another four-run outburst extended the margin.

In the second game, Point Park left 10 men on base and as a result could never gain any separation. The score remained 0-0 until Jordan Crowell lined a solo homer over the wall in right-center field, his second of the year. That was one of seven hits for the Pioneers.

But Krivijanski didn't need much offensive support. He retired the first nine batters he faced and shut out Brescia the first four innings. The first sign of trouble came in the fourth when Brescia had the bases loaded with one out and the score still 0-0. But Krivijanski struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

Brescia tied the score a 1-1 with an unearned run in the fifth when Josh Wetzel singled with two outs, stole second and scored on an infield error that should've ended the inning.

Point Park scored the eventual winning run the next half inning on Chaz Russo's hard-smash single to third base. Conley started the rally with a lead-off single. Mrkonja then laid down a sacrifice bunt, and after Oscar Romero was intentionally walked, Russo delivered his big hit two batters later.

With the 2-1 lead, Krivijanski retired Brescia in order in the sixth, his fourth 1-2-3 inning in six innings of work. For the seventh, closer Jake Horew picked up his sixth save by retiring all three batters he faced.

Losing pitcher Wilz (4-3) went all six innings, struck out seven, walked two and gave up seven hits.

Point Park and Brescia resume the series with two more games Sunday at Kelly Automotive Park beginning at 12 p.m. Live Video will be broadcast by the Point Park Sports Network. Live Stats also available.

Follow the Pioneers on Twitter @PointParkSports and @PPUBaseball