Point Park falls to Asbury in Unaffiliated Tournament 1st Rd, goes to loser's bracket
May 1, 2012
Point Park in its huddle prior to Tuesday's pre-game warmup at Grainger Stadium. Photo by Jon Birchok.
KINSTON, N.C. – Top seed Point Park University lost, 5-4, in 11 innings to Asbury (Ky.) University in the first round of the Unaffiliated Baseball Tournament on Tuesday morning.
The Pioneers (44-8, 11-0 AMC), who are ranked No. 10 in the NAIA, fall to the loser’s bracket of the six-team, double-elimination event. Point Park will next play on Wed., May 2 at 10 a.m. in an elimination game versus No. 5 seed Fisher (Mass.) (21-28, 4-7 AMC). Fisher lost to No. 2 seed Talladega, 11-9, in the first round.
The tournament continues through May 4 at Grainger Stadium in Kinston, N.C., with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament. Should Point Park be eliminated from the tourney, it could fall back on an at-large bid to nationals, but that is no guarantee.
All games in the tournament are scheduled for nine innings, and it took two extra frames for Asbury (15-36, 9-7 KIAC) to push across the winning run.
Asbury, the KIAC tournament champion, was the home team after a coin flip decided that before the game. The Eagles scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th when an error on the backend of a potential inning-ending double play allowed the deciding tally to come in.
Point Park led, 4-0, after three innings but could not muster any key hits after that. Point Park had just five hits in the 11 innings and lost despite six errors, five walks and two hit batters by the Asbury team.
Point Park starter Derek Peluso went six-plus innings but left the game after giving up consecutive singles to start the seventh. At that time, Point Park was ahead, 4-2, as reliever Mike Tullio came in.
Asbury got two runs before the inning was through, and the tying run came home on Jordan Cox’s RBI single to make it 4-4.
Peluso was charged with four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and one walk over six innings. Tullio stayed in the game until the very end, and he pitched 4.2 innings in all. Tullio (5-4), Point Park’s closer with 12 saves on the year, took the loss and gave up just the one unearned run on six hits. He struck out two and walked none.
Asbury starting pitcher Isaiah Bell went deep into the game, and gave up only four hits over nine innings. Bell did, however, walk five batters and hit two others. Point Park took advantage of the base runners early in the game for three runs in the second and another in the third, but Bell began to find a groove after that.
Point Park’s Tom Pasinski got the scoring started with an RBI double in the second. Tom Birko followed three batters later with a bases-loaded single that scored two for a 3-0 lead.
Point Park pushed across an unearned run in the third as Ossie Alfonzo was hit by a pitch, stole second, advance to third on a groundout and scored on an error.
Birko had two of Point Park’s five hits and drove in two runs. Point Park left nine on base, two more than Asbury.
Asbury reliever Micah Pace (4-0) got the victory in 2.0 innings of work. He gave up just one hit in the late innings.
Both teams had their chances with the scored tied at 4-4. Point Park had the go-ahead run at second base with one out in the top of the ninth and 10th but could not drive in the run. The Pioneers went down in order in the top of the 11th.
In the Point Park ninth, Birko was walked with one out and stole second. In the 10th, Alfonzo led off with a single and was bunted ahead by Marlon Leyva.
Asbury eventually won in its last at bat, but had a few opportunities to take the lead earlier on.
In the last of the eighth, KIAC Player of the Year Danny Olszowy singled with two outs and stole second. But Tullio got out of it with a deep fly ball to left.
Asbury had none on and two outs in the 10th, but singles by Tyler Weaver and Olszowy put runners at first and second. But again, Tullio escaped on a fly out to center.
In the bottom of the 11th, Simeon Bell led off with his third base hit of the day. Then Cox singled reached on an infield single to put runners on first and second. After a fly out to right, Tullio induced a groundball to second.
The Pioneers got the force out at second, and a good throw to first would have been in time for the inning-ending double play. But the toss went into the first-base dugout, which allowed Bell to come home from second.
Asbury ended up with 13 hits. Bell was 3 for 5, and No. 2-4 hitters Weaver, Olszowy and Tyler Wooden were each 2 for 5.