No. 8 Point Park has win streak come to an end with losses to Malone
April 6, 2012
Tom Birko and the Pioneers had their 18-game winning streak end Friday. Photo by Evan Schall.
PITTSBURGH -- Given the nature of baseball, it was bound to happen at some point.
After not losing for for 28 days -- a span of 18 consecutive victories -- NAIA No. 8 Point Park University (30-5, 4-0 AMC) ran into a hot pitcher in game one and couldn't catch any late breaks in game two as it lost both ends of a non-conference baseball doubleheader to Malone University on Friday at Green Tree Park.
Malone (15-13) won the opener, 3-0, as winning pitcher Jared Messer (6-1) blanked Point Park on four hits, 10 strikeouts and two walks in a complete-game shutout. The junior right-hander lowered his ERA to 1.00 with the performance.
Point Park lost game two, 6-5, in eight innings and had its rally come up short after being down 5-0 through three and a half innings.
Trailing game two, 5-4, heading into the bottom of the seventh, Rob Novia led off with a single for one of his three hits. Lee Bodnar followed with an RBI double to score Novia from first and tie the score at 5-5.
Malone elected to walk Point Park slugger Javier Marticorena with first base open. Jonathan Tasis then chopped a swinging bunt to the mound to move both runners up. Again, Malone chose to issue a free pass, this time to Steve Dujka, to load the bases.
It was at that point that Malone, with the winning run 90 feet from home and only one out, chose to create a defensive alingment with five infielders. The left fielder came in to stand at shortstop, and the shortstop plugged the hole up the middle.
That left two outfielders -- in left center and right center. The next batter, Ozzie Alfonzo, lined a shot to the gap in right center, and had it not been for the odd defensive alignment, it would have gone for a game-ending hit. Instead, it went directly to right fielder Marc Adams, who made the catch for out No. 2 and then pegged pinch runner Don McDuffee at the plate for the third out.
That kept the score at 5-5 after seven innings. In the top of the eighth, Malone got an infield single from Frank Dufour, a sacrifice bunt by Logan Gray and a bloop double by Sam Craciun that fell in with two outs to produce the eventual winning run.
In the last of the eighth, Point Park's Tom Birko singled with two outs and moved up to third on two consecutive wild pitches by Malone reliever Nate Morrison. But Morrison got Novia to fly out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Trailing, 5-1, Point Park got three runs in the sixth. Alfonzo ripped an RBI double to make the score 5-2 and put runners at second and third. Tom Pasinski then grounded back to starting pitcher Tyler Newhart, who threw wild to third base trying to get the runner there. The throw went out of play, forcing in two runs and putting Pasinski at second.
With two outs, Birko's base hit got through the left side as Pasinski rounded third. But Pasinski was thrown out at home as the Pioneers still trailed, 5-4, after six innings.
Malone's 5-0 lead was built mainly on its four runs in the fourth inning. That was the last inning for Point Park starter Ryan Loutsenhizer, who gave up four earned runs on seven hits, one strikeout and two walks.
Big hits in the Malone fourth were Sam Craciun's two-run homer and Adam Heideman's RBI single with two outs. A run had come home earlier on a groundout after Dufour tripled.
Newhart lasted 5.1 innings for Malone and gave up four runs on eight hits. Reliever Jesse Coblentz (2-1) got the win in 1.2 innings, and Morrison pitched the eighth for his second save.
After Loutsenhizer left, Isaiah Marsh threw three scoreless innings to allow Point Park to catch up. Marsh gave up three hits, struck out three and walked none. Mike Tullio (4-2) took the loss after coming on in the top of the eighth.
Point Park's 12 hits included three from Novia and two each from Birko, Bodnar and Dujka. Malone had 12 hits as well with No. 9 hitter Craciun going 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
In the first game of the day, Point Park starter Derek Peluso (5-1) was out-dueled by Messer despite giving up only one earned run. Peluso went 6.2 innings, struck out seven and walked three. He gave up seven hits, and a couple of Point Park errors made two of three runs charged to him unearned.
Peluso retired the first eight batters he faced, but an error with two outs and no one on in the Malone third kept the inning alive. After a walk to Joe Goddard, consecutive RBI singles from Matt Anderson and Heideman made the score 2-0 with a couple of unearned runs.
Malone added an insurance run in the fifth with a base hit, a bunt and another RBI single from Heideman.
Point Park had runners on base in six of the seven innings, but could not crack a key hit versus Messer. The Pioneers got runners to third in the second and fifth innings, but Messer was able to get ground balls to get out of the jams. Messer got eight ground outs to go alongside his 10 strikeouts.
Point Park and Malone play another doubleheader Saturday in Canton, Ohio. Game time at Thurman Munson Stadium is 1 p.m.
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