Point Park reaches finals of Unaffiliated Tournament after winning the loser's bracket
Updated at 10:45 a.m. on May 4, 2012
Point Park celebrates reaching the tournament finals at Grainger Stadium. Photo by Jon Birchok.
KINSTON, N.C. -- Top seed Point Park University reached the championship round of the Unaffiliated Baseball Tournament with Thursday night's 6-2 victory over No. 3 seed Indiana Southeast in the loser's bracket final at Grainger Stadium.
The Pioneers (47-8, 11-0 AMC), who are ranked No. 10 in the NAIA, had defeated No. 2 seed Talladega (Ala.), 2-0, earlier in the day Thursday to stay alive. Like Talladega (29-20), Indiana Southeast (27-29) was the second team to be eliminated by Point Park on the day.
Point Park will face No. 6 seed Asbury (17-36) in the championship round Friday at 2 p.m. Point Park needs to beat Asbury, which is located in Wilmore, Ky., twice for the title. If necessary, a second game will be at 6 p.m. Friday night.
Point Park's Manny Perdomo (7-0) went 8.2 strong innings to get the victory over Indiana Southeast. The sophomore right-hander from Hialeah, Fla., was the third Pioneers' pitcher in a row to put up a strong performance in an elimination game as he joined Sean Clark and Nate Spohn with that distinction.
Perdomo started his outing with seven shutout innings, and Indiana Southeast didn't get on the board until two errors led to an unearned run in the eighth. A lead off double and a base hit cut the Point Park lead to 6-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
With the tying run in the on-deck circle, Horacio Acosta came in and threw one pitch to get the save on a ground out the the mound.
Perdomo gave up just five hits -- two in the ninth inning -- and allowed just one earned run. He totaled eight strikeouts, walked one and hit two batters.
Trailing, 2-0, Indiana Southeast had the makings of a big inning when it loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. A double and two hit batters put Perdomo in that jam, but he got a fly out to left and caught two batters looking to get out of it. That started a stretch of 13 consecutive hitters retired by Perdomo, and that allowed him to cruise all the way until he had one out in the eighth.
The Point Park offense totaled eight hits, and No. 9 hitter Dillon Sauers turned in a big game by going 3 for 3 with three RBIs. His two-run single in the second staked Point Park to an early, 2-0 lead. Tom Pasinki had walked and Don McDuffee singled earlier in the inning.
Point Park added four runs in the fifth for a 6-0 lead. Consecutive, one-out singles by Marlon Leyva, Steve Dujka and Pasinski loaded the bases for McDuffee, who laid down a squeeze bunt. A run scored as the defense tried to get McDuffee at first, but the throw got away and allowed a total of three runs to score on the play. McDuffee ended up at third, and Sauers knocked him in with a base hit.
Lee Bodnar was 2 for 4 with a walk for Point Park. Pasinski was 1 for 3 with a walk, and McDuffee finished 1 for 3 with an RBI and a sacrifice bunt.
Asbury, which started the season 0-17, has made a surprising postseason run. The Eagles have been playing .500 ball since their rough start to the year. After winning only 11 regular season games, they have won six postseason contests in a row. Asbury went 3-0 on its run to the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament title. Its 3-0 showing thus far in the Unaffiliated Tournament includes knocking off favored Point Park, 5-4, in 11 innings in the first round.
The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA Opening Round, the regional playoff prior to the NAIA World Series, from May 10-14.
Given its No. 10 ranking in this week's NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, Point Park is well-positioned for an at-large bid to nationals even if it comes up short in the finals versus Asbury. That positioning has become even stronger after the Pioneers reached the finals of this week's tournament.
When Point Park dropped to the loser's bracket after the first round, it needed to fight to keep its national ranking. And even though a big drop is unlikely now that Point Park has stuck around in Kinston, N.C., there are no guarantees for one of the 16 at-large bids.
Last year, Point Park was No. 23 in the final poll and was the first team left out. This year, the final poll that is used to determine the national invites will come out the evening of May 6.
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