#23 Point Park nipped by MVNU in AMC Baseball Tournament Championship
May 6, 2011
Brian Grise was 3 for 5 in the decisive Game 3 of the finals on Friday.
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BUTLER, Pa. -- Top seed Point Park University narrowly lost the decisive third game of the American Mideast Conference Baseball Tournament Championship Series, 4-3, to #2 seed Mt. Vernon Nazarene University Friday afternoon at Pullman Park in Butler.
The Pioneers (38-13, 14-6 AMC), ranked #23 in the NAIA, had forced a final game in the best-of-3 championship series with a come-from-behind, 7-5 victory earlier in the day Friday.
But Mt. Vernon Nazarene (30-17), which entered the day with a 1-0 lead in the series thanks to Wednesday's 9-3 victory, was able to hang on for the series-clinching victory after taking its 4-3 lead in the fifth inning.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene wins the conference's automatic bid to the NAIA Opening Round next week, and the Cougars will learn which regional playoff they will go to on Sunday. Point Park, which has 25 more wins than it did last year, is left to await a possible at-large bid to nationals. The NAIA will announce the 45-team field on Sunday.
MVNU relief pitcher Tim Harvey ended up being the difference in the deciding game. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound lefty used a slow breaking ball and a well-placed fast ball to throw six shut-out innings. He came on with the score 3-3 in the fourth, and when the Cougars scored the eventual winning run on a controversial play at the plate in the fifth, that was all Harvery needed.
Point Park had jumped out to a 3-0 lead the first two innings and was on the verge of adding more versus Cougars' starter Jerrob Decker. But Decker was pulled after facing one batter in the fourth to prevent further damage.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene put together five hits and a sacrifice fly in the third to tie things up at 3-3 versus Point Park starter Ben Rodriguez. Rodriguez gave up a lead-off double to Ian Durbin in the fifth, and he came around to score on Chaz Gibson's two-out hit through the left side.
Point Park left fielder Kyle Lucot's strike to the plate beat Durbin there and Point Park catcher Dave Angle was there waiting when Gibson slid into him. Although Angle showed the umpire he was firmly in grasp of the ball, Dubin was ruled safe for what ended up being the deciding run.
Harvey then made the heavily disputed run stand up by striking out six, walking one and allowing only two hits in his six shut-out innings of relief. The second hit against him was a lead-off single by Brian Grise to start Point Park's bottom of the ninth. Lucot then laid down a bunt, and both runners were safe when the MVNU catcher tried to get Grise at second.
Lee Bodnar then reached on a fielder's choice to set up first and third with one out for Angle. But Point Park's cleanup hitter grounded into a game-ending double play at shortstop.
Rodriguez (5-1) took the loss with four runs on nine hits in four innings. Point Park reliever Mike Tullio was very strong all day. In all, he pitched 8.2 scoreless innings of relief across the two games, including five shutout innings to keep the decisive game at 4-3.
Point Park managed only six hits in the final game, and Grise was 3 for 5 with an RBI.
In the first game of the day, Point Park rallied from an early, 4-0 deficit to force a third game in the best-of-3 series. The Pioneers were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position the first three innings, but finally started to get some key hits in the fourth. Point Park singles by Angle and Zach O'Neal, the latter of which was 4 for 5, started the inning. Frank Marko followed with an RBI groundout and Tom Pasinski cut the lead to 4-2 with a base hit.
Lucot singled, stole second and scored on O'Neal's base knock to make it 5-3 in the fifth. In the sixth, Point Park took the lead for good with three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter. Key hits in the rally were RBI singles from Bodnar, O'Neal and Bryce Pfeuffer.
The Pioneers did not get much off of reliever Steve Miller, who came on for starter Grant Martin midway through the sixth. But they did get a key insurance run on Marko's sacrifice fly in the ninth to make the score 7-5. The inning started with O'Neal's fourth single in four at bats. He then moved up to second on a wild pitch before being sacrificed to third with one out.
Tullio then worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the game and pick up his third save of the year. Tullio, a junior right-hander from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., worked 3.2 scoreless innings in relief winning pitcher Sean Clark.
Clark gave up five runs on 10 hits in his 5.1 innings of work, and he handed over a 6-5 lead to Tullio in the sixth. Clark struck out two and walked one to improve to 7-2 on the year.
Tullio's numbers across the two games Friday included three strikeouts, no walks, no runs and six hits in 8.2 innings. He finishes the year 6-0 with a 0.98 ERA in 46.0 innings. 11 of 13 outings came in relief.