No. 9 Point Park completes weekend sweep of Houghton in AMC series
March 31, 2012
PITTSBURGH -- Point Park University, ranked No. 9 in NAIA baseball, completed a four-game, American Mideast Conference sweep of Houghton College on Saturday by winning 5-3 and 7-0 at Green Tree Park.
The Pioneers (28-3, 4-0 AMC) extended their current win streak to 16 in a row and are now 12-0 at home. Point Park put the wraps on a month of March that saw it go 20-2 overall and 15-0 since returning from its spring trip to Florida March 4-9.
It was a cold and windy day at Green Tree Park with the wind chill putting temperatures in the 30s on Saturday. Point Park's bats were cold as well as they managed just four hits in game one and six hits -- two of which were home runs by Javier Marticorena -- in game two.
Houghton (3-18, 0-4 AMC) got a strong pitching performance from game-one starter Seth Cornell (0-2), who limited Point Park to four hits in his 5.2 innings of work. Cornell offered plenty of base runners with his nine walks, but his seven strikeouts and Point Park's inability to get runners in got him out of several jams.
But Point Park got good pitching as well with starter Sean Clark (3-0) getting the victory in 5.0 innings. Clark scattered seven hits, struck out three and walked one. Only one of the two runs charged to him was earned, and he left the game after giving up a lead-off single in the sixth and the Pioneers leading, 3-2.
Reliever Mike Tullio came on to finish off the sixth with an infield popout and a double play, and he earned his eighth save of the year despite giving up a run on two hits in the seventh.
The run that Tullio gave up in the top of the seventh did little more than make the final score 5-3, but it could have been different if the Pioneers didn't take a 5-2 lead with two runs in the last of the sixth.
Clinging to its 3-2 lead, Point Park scraped across two runs on one hit and three walks that inning. Phil Navatsyk, who as 1 for 1 with a walk and a sacrifice fly, got a one-out single. With two outs, Rob Novia, Lee Bodnar and Marticorena each drew a walk to force in a run.
Marticorena was the last batter that Cornell faced, and Marticorena fought off several 3-2 pitches before drawing the walk on a pitch that was just off the inside part of the plate. Cornell exited the game, and reliever Ignacio Villalobos walked Marlon Leyva to force in another run and give the Pioneers a 5-2 lead. But then Villalobos got a strikeout to prevent further damage.
Point Park had taken a 2-0 lead in the first when Marticorena ripped an RBI double to the wall in left center. Leyva followed with an RBI infield hit. Navatsyk's sacrifice fly came in the fourth for a 3-1 lead.
Houghton needed three singles to get a run in the top of the fourth. In the fifth, the Highlanders got an unearned run off Clark that eventually came around on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and one out. But Clark left the bases loaded to keep the score 3-2.
In game two, Point Park got a complete-game shutout from freshman left-hander Nate Spohn (3-0). A native of Greensburg, Pa., and a transfer from West Chester, Spohn got his first-career complete game and shutout by limiting Houghton to four hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
Spohn was the beneficiary of an early lead as the Pioneers got six runs the first two innings. Houghton starter Villalobos walked four of the first seven batters he faced as the Pioneers put a two-spot up in the first. One of the runs came home on a wild pitch, and the other scored on Ossie Alfonzo's base hit.
Point Park got four runs in the second with the help of three extra base hits. After a walk to Mike Ganley, Rob Novia and Lee Bodnar delivered consecutive, RBI doubles. Marticorena followed with the first of his two homers, a line-drive shot to left center.
That was all the offense for Point Park until the sixth inning as Villalobos settled in. Marticorena was the third batter to face reliever Jared Knowlton in the sixth, and Marticorena belted a solo homer to the left field corner, his sixth of the year.
Leyva had two of Point Park's four hits in the opener. The Pioneers managed six hits in game two, and Marticorena led the way by going 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
Point Park is off until Wednesday, Apri 4 when it visits Penn State Beaver for a 12 p.m. doubleheader. The Pioneers play a four-game set with Malone next weekend with the first two games at Point Park Friday at 1 p.m.