Point Park drops two close games to Mt. Vernon Nazarene in AMC play Thursday
ROBINSON TWP., Pa. – The Point Park University baseball team lost a couple of close games to visiting Mt. Vernon Nazarene in American Mideast Conference action Thursday afternoon.
Point Park (8-23, 2-16 AMC) led the first game, 4-1, after two innings but went on to lose, 5-4, in eight innings. The Cougar’s bullpen did not allow the Pioneers to get a run the last 6.1 innings.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene (19-13, 5-5 AMC) took the second game, 4-2, on the strength of Kyle Barr’s complete-game, four-hitter.
The AMC teams will conclude the four-game series with two games at Mt. Vernon Nazarene Saturday at 1 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live on the internet on WNZR. Air time is 12:50 p.m., and links to the broadcast can be found on the Point Park baseball website at game time.
Point Park got a strong start from pitcher Seth Martin (Verona/Penn Hills) in game one Thursday, but the senior right-hander did not factor in the decision. Martin took a 4-2 lead into the fifth, but a pair unearned runs in the inning allowed the Cougars to tie it up at 4-4.
PICTURED ABOVE: Martin is shown in a start last week versus Walsh. Photo by Lyddia Ankrom.
Martin was lifted in the seventh with the score 4-4 after the leadoff batter reached on an error. Only one of the four runs charged to Martin were earned, and he gave up seven hits. He finished with four strikeouts and no walks in six innings.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth off of reliever Mike Tullio (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens). Matt Parks got things going with a one-out double to the corner in right, and pinch runner Jeff Estep moved to third on a balk. Estep came in to score on a wild pitch as the Cougars went up, 5-4.
Trailing by one, Point Park went down in order in the last of the eighth, in what was a continuation of strong bullpen work for Mt. Vernon Nazarene. The Cougars did not get a good start from pitcher Luis Baez, and Point Park took advantage.
Baez lasted only 1.2 innings, and he turned a 4-1 deficit over to the Cougars’ bullpen. Baez struggled with control in giving up four runs, four hits, five walks and two wild pitches.
Lee Bodnar (Chartiers/Chartiers Valley) was 3 for 3 with two RBIs in the opener, and his two-out base hit gave Point Park a 1-0 lead in the first. Earlier in the inning, Tom Birko (Coraopolis/Montour) had walked and moved to second on a wild pitch.
In the second inning, Ricky Cordido (Caracas, Venezuela) walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Birko followed with an RBI single. After a walk to Bryce Pfeuffer (Robinson Twp./Montour), Dan Campbell (Baldwin/Baldwin) and Bodnar each delivered a run-scoring single to make it 4-1.
Bodnar was the last batter to face Baez, and the Mt. Vernon Nazarene bullpen did not give up a run the last 6.1 innings. Reliever Justin Brown came on the second, and after stranding two runners in the second, he did the same thing in the third. Brown gave up three hits and no runs in 4.1 innings of work. He struck out five and walked four.
Another reliever, Darren Athey got the win after pitching the last two innings. Athey entered the game after Brown walked the first batter of the seventh inning. He got a double play to end the seventh and retired all five batters he faced.
In the second game, Point Park got six solid innings from starter Ryan Loutsenhizer (North Huntingdon/Norwin), but he was out-dueled by winning pitcher Barr.
Barr faced only three batters over the minimum with three strikeouts and one walk in seven innings. The Pioneers managed only four hits versus the sophomore right-hander, and three of them came in the only inning they scored – the third.
The only bump in the road for Barr started when Dave Angle (Pittsburgh/Pine-Richland) blasted a solo homer to start the third. After Angle’s fourth home run of the year tied it at 1-1, Birko singled up the middle with two outs. Birko moved up a base on a passed ball, and the next batter, Pfeuffer, laced a base hit to center, which gave the Pioneers their only lead at 2-1.
But Barr retired the next batter to end the threat, and Point Park sent only three men to the plate in each of the last four innings. Barr hit a batter with one out in the fourth, but he was erased with a double play. Barr finished off the complete game by retiring the last 10 men he faced. Barr got 11 groundouts in the game.
Loutsenhizer took the loss with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings. Mt. Vernon Nazarene took a 1-0 lead in the third when Ian Durbin doubled and Brian Brockly tripled. Two innings later, a walk and a triple by Michael Hendren tied the score at 2-2.
Before the fifth was through, the Cougars made it 3-2 on a two-out, RBI single through the right side by Justin Doherty. An inning later, the Cougars added an insurance run on Durbin’s bloop single to shallow left field. The inning had started with two singles and a hit batter to load the bases.
Tullio once again came on in relief after the leadoff batter reached in the seventh. Although Mt. Vernon Nazarene loaded the bases with a couple of bunt singles, Tullio got out of the jam and kept the score 4-2.
NOTES: Bodnar was 4 for 4 in his first four trips to the plate Thursday. The first time the Cougars got him was on a ground out in the fourth inning of game two…Coming into Thursday’s start, Martin had gotten a combined six runs of support in his previous four outings. Five of those six runs came in a 6-5 setback to Shawnee State...Point Park got the leadoff man on in the first two innings of game two, but each time Durbin cut down the runner trying to steal second base.