Point Park University No. 6 in NAIA Baseball Preseason Top 25 Poll (Nov. 13)
Nov. 13, 2012 at 9:30 p.m. ET
CF Tom Pasinski is one of six position starters returning from the 2012 team that was 53-11.
PITTSBURGH -- The Point Park University baseball team starts the 2013 season in the same place it ended the 2012 season -- as the sixth-ranked team in the country. In the 2013 NAIA Baseball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll released on Tuesday (Nov. 13), Point Park is ranked No. 6.
The Pioneers, who were 53-11 overall, 11-0 conference last year, were also ranked No. 6 in the Final Top 25 Poll of last year. That was following a fifth-place showing at the Avista-NAIA World Series, the 11th appearance in school history.
Between the end of last year and the start of this year, the top six teams in the country remained a concensus. While there was some shuffling among the top six, no schools exited or entered that group. The rest of the poll after that contained some switching.
Defending NAIA World Series champion Tennessee Wesleyan is ranked No. 1 in the preseason followed by No. 2 LSU Shreveport, No. 3 Lee (Tenn.), No. 4 Oklahoma City, No. 5 Rogers State (Okla.) and No. 6 Point Park.
"We are glad to be projected as one of the Top-10 teams in the country," said Point Park's fourth-year head coach Loren Torres. "As a team, we want to make sure that we are not complacent while we continue to stay hungry and humble. We are ready to take on the challenges that the 2013 season will bring and are looking forward to a competitive schedule."
Point Park's 53-11 record and its 11th trip to the NAIA World Series in 2012 was built on pitching. The Pioneers return six of their top seven starting pitchers from a year ago including three who started a game in the World Series. Point Park also returns six of the nine hitters in their batting order. The Pioneers have a roster with plenty of returnees and also some talented newcomers who will upgrade the team at their respective positions.
Point Park is ready for a challenging schedule that is highlighted with an early season doubleheader March 8, 2013 at preseason-No. 7 Embry Riddle (Fla.). That matchup will take place at the end of the Pioneers' spring trip to Florida.
The Pioneers open the 2013 season Feb. 22 at Martin Methodist (Tenn.), a team that is receiving votes nationally. Also on that same trip from Feb. 22-26 will be trips to Talladega (Ala.), Campbellsville (Ky.) and West Virginia Tech. Point Park will play eight to 10 NAIA opponents at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational March 1-7 before going up to Daytona Beach, Fla., to play Embry Riddle.
Point Park plays a four-game series versus each of the other five teams in its new conference, the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Fellow KIAC member Indiana Southeast is receiving votes in the preseason Top 25.
Point Park's non-conference schedule includes one more ranked team with that being at preseason-No. 20 Georgetown (Ky.) March 24.
Point Park ranked ninth in the country last year with a team ERA of 3.11. Returing from that staff are NAIA World Series starting pitchers Sean Clark (RHP, Sr., 8-0, 2.69 ERA), Nathan Sphon (LHP, So., 8-1, 2.45) and Manny Perdomo (RHP, Jr., 7-0, 1.79). Point Park did lose veteran Derek Peluso (RHP, Sr., 10-1, 2.91) to graduation, but they replaced him with West Virginia University transfer Austin Pressly, a senior right-hander who won two games in the Pioneers' intrasquad Fall World Series.
Point Park was 10th in the nation last year in runs scored and returns 6 of 9 hitters from a team that hit .318 collectively. The outfield has plenty of talent offensively and defensively with LF Rob Novia (.340, 42 RBI), CF Tom Pasinski (.339, 34 RBI) and RF Javy Marticorena (.384, 7 HR, 34 RBIs), the last of which is healthy after missing second half of the season and the World Series. Don McDuffee (.330, 24 RBI) filled in for Marticorena and is also back.
Other returning starters are 2B Tom Birko (.322, 45 RBI), C Ossie Alfonzo (.275, 41 RBI) and DH Marlon Leyva (.313, 29 RBIs). Alfonzo hit .529 with eight RBIs in the World Series to earn All-Tournament Team honors.
With holes to fill at shortstop, first base and third base, the Pioneers won't skip a beat there and in some cases have upgraded.
Newcomer Yuliecer Arias was an all-region shorstop at Indian Hills (Iowa) CC and the defensive player of the year in the conference. Northwestern Ohio transfer Jordan Crowell, who hit .318 there as a freshman, is a lead canidate to take over at third base.
First base will be in the hands of a couple of players who are battling such as returnee Jonathan Tasis (.397, 19 RBIs), a junior. Another bat that the Pioneers added is SCAD (Ga.) transfer Yale Sanford, who will get into the lineup as catcher or DH.
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