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Point Park takes season series vs. WVU Tech, comes in at No. 24 in Top 25

April 21, 2015 at 10:30 p.m.

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Chaz Russo was 3 for 3 in Game 1 to clinch the season series vs. WVU Tech. Photo by Sam Robinson.

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PITTSBURGH -- Point Park University beat visiting West Virginia Tech, 4-1, in an NAIA non-conference baseball game on Tuesday to take the season series versus the future KIAC-member Golden Bears. The Pioneers (32-11, 16-4 KIAC) did lose the second game of the doubleheader, 5-1, but won three of four in the season series.

Also on Tuesday, Point Park came in at No. 24 in the NAIA Top 25 Poll. That put the Pioneers in the national rankings in all eight Top 25 polls of this season. It is also the 13th straight regular season poll in which Point Park is nationally ranked dating back to last year.

The Pioneers had early offense in building a 4-1 lead through four innings to win the opener versus 27-win West Virginia Tech (27-21), which will be a member of the KIAC starting next year. With the lead, winning pitcher Anthony Garofalo scattered eight hits and gave up just a first-inning run in a complete-game effort.

Garofalo (4-0) remained perfect in four starts by striking out three and walking one in seven innings. The sophomore left-hander from Plum, Pa., allowed an RBI single by Trevor Lam in the first inning but did not allow any scoring plays after that.

The only other time WVU Tech had more than one hit in an inning came in the top of the seventh when Carlos Diaz's base hit with one out loaded the bases. But Garofalo got out of it and did not allow any runs to score as he got a fly ball to right field off the bat of Lam, and Hunter Greco was nailed at the plate trying to tag up, which ended the game.

Point Park tied the score at 1-1 when Oscar Romero ripped an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the first. Shane Conley had drawn a one-out walk and stolen second.

The Pioneers went ahead, 3-1, when Andy Chacon blasted a two-run double in the third.

Chaz Russo, who was 3 for 3 in the game, led off the fourth with a double. He moved up on a fly out by Chris Hernandez, and that same play involved an outfield error that allowed Russo to score.

The second game was broken open when WVU Tech's Diaz hit a grand slam in the fifth inning. Point Park was hanging on to a 1-0 lead at the time, and Diaz's big swing was the only big blow for either team in the contest.

Point Park had gone ahead, 1-0, just a half inning earlier on Andres Herrera's RBI single in the fourth. But Diaz's grand slam came in the top of the next inning came after two walks and a hit batter.

Robert Rodriguez went the distance for Point Park and was solid except for the fifth inning. He struck out six, walked two and yielded six hits. A double and an error that followed a fly out accounted for WVU Tech's other run, which came in the top of the seventh.

WVU Tech used three pitchers to limit Point Park to one run on five hits in the second game. Jayson Sykora got the win in 4.1 innings as the starter. Point Park got all five of its hits versus Sykora.

But when WVU Tech got the lead, it turned things over to a couple of its top available arms to ensure the win. WVU Tech relievers Craig Johnson (0.2 innings) and Josh Smetana (2.0 innings) did not allow a hit or run the last 2.2 innings. Smetana struck out four and walked none.

WVU Tech is now 6-5 on the year versus KIAC teams, which includes 1-3 versus Point Park. The Golden Bears have set a team record for wins in a season and are the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Association of Independent Institution Tournament.

Point Park was scheduled to host Shawnee State for a make-up doubleheader on Wednesday, April 22. But SSU has called off that came on its accord. The leaves the next games for Point Park at home versus Talladega (Ala.) on Thursday at 1 p.m. (DH) and Friday at 12 p.m. (DH).

The Talladega series are the last games for the Pioneers prior to the KIAC Tournament April 29-May 2 at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tenn. Point Park will be the No. 1 seed in the six-team, double-elimination tournament and will have a bye in the first round. The Pioneers will play the winner of No. 4 Brescia vs. No. 5 Alice Lloyd (Ky.) in the second round April 30 at 10 a.m.

Follow the Pioneers on Twitter @PointParkSports and @PPUBaseball