Point Park University Baseball -- 2011 Season Preview
March 4, 2011
Photo by Jack Megaw
Pioneers look to take next step in second year under head coach Loren Torres
As the 2011 season starts, the Point Park University baseball team is entering year number two under head coach Loren Torres. With that, the Pioneers will look to take another step toward re-establishing the program to its strong tradition. Point Park was 13-26 last year in the first season under Torres. The Pioneers welcome back this year several important veterans, and there were also some talented newcomers added to the roster. Point Park has five starters returning among the position players and also welcomes back two starting pitchers. The newcomers are a mix of talented freshmen and transfers with several from the group to be counted on to make an impact right away.
Among the returning veterans are first-team All-AMC selections Bryce Pfeuffer, a senior, and Lee Bodnar, a junior. Pfeuffer hit a team-best .375 last year and also had strong work in the field with a .971 fielding percentage to garner first-team all-conference honors at second base. Bodnar hit .438 on the year on his way to being a first-team selection at third base. Bodnar did not have enough at-bats to qualify for the conference leaders as he earned a starting spot on the infield midway through the year.
Dave Angle, a catcher/designated hitter, is back for his senior season and his third year in the Point Park program. The slugging Angle, who was a second-team All-AMC pick, hit .302 with a team-high six homers and 26 RBIs last year. In his two-year career with the Pioneers, the 2009 All-AMC first-team DH is hitting .339 with 11 home runs and 65 RBIs.
Senior center fielder Brian Grise was an All-AMC honorable-mention pick as one of the best outfielders in the AMC. Grise enjoyed a career-best year at the plate in 2010 with a .315 average, 22 RBIs and 7 of 9 stolen bases. Another speedy outfielder is senior Kyle Lucot, who earned the AMC Rawlings Gold Glove as the best left fielder in the league last year. Lucot hit .321 with 19 RBIs and was 9 of 10 in steal attempts. He and Grise combined for 11 outfield assists in 2010.
Returning pitchers include junior Derek Peluso and sophomore Ryan Loutsenhizer. Those two right-handers were used as the No. 3 and 4 starters, respectively, last year and figure to make strides with another year under their belts. Junior Mike Tullio was used primarily in a relief role, but also earned three starts. The only other returning arm to make an appearance last year was junior Mike Palmer.
The pitching staff welcomes transfers Alcibiades Gonzalez (Talladega College) and Sean Clark (Duquesne) as well as freshman James Monroe (Miami, Fla.). Those players figure to be in the mix as starters. Junior college transfer Ben Rodriguez was used in relief at Elgin (Ill.) CC.
The Pioneers have several newcomers in the mix for starting spots in the field. Junior infielder Dillon Sauers is back in the program after transferring to WV State last year. He hit .305 with 27 RBIs as a freshman at Point Park in 2009. Junior Zach O’Neal hit .444 with 4 homers and 56 RBIs last year at Kishwaukee (Ill.) JC. Another junior college transfer is first baseman Steve Dujka, who hit .388 at Elgin CC in 2010. Freshman infielder Jonathan Tasis was an All-Dade County pick at Mater Academy near Miami, Fla.
Other newcomers include freshmen infielders Kaleb Paulton (Clearwater, Fla), Chris Smith (Jeannette, Pa.) and Jon Corcoran (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Tyler Bowen is a catcher from Bethel Park who was at Duquesne for his freshman season last year. Tom Pasinski, a sophomore outfielder, transferred from PSU-Behrend. Rob Novia, a sophomore outfielder, and Frank Marko, a junior infielder, are among the returning position players.
Point Park has a long tradition of baseball success. The Pioneers have made 10 appearances in the NAIA World Series, which is tied for fifth-most all time. Point Park has not been to the NAIA World Series since 1998, and is seeking its first postseason appearance of any kind for the first time since 2004. The last time the Pioneers made the playoffs was in the 2004 AMC tournament. Point Park has an all-time record of 1,067-604-9, which equates to a winning percentage of .638,