No. 9 Point Park takes care of Fisher, clinches AMC regular season title
April 20, 2012
Ossie Alfonzo was 3 for 6 with two RBIs in Friday's games. Photo by Evan Schall.
PITTSBURGH -- NAIA No. 9 Point Park University took care of visiting Fisher College, 5-0 and 10-2, in an American Mideast Conference baseball doubleheader at Green Tree Park on Friday and wrapped up the AMC Regular Season title in the process.
The Pioneers (39-7, 10-0 AMC) have two more games left on their AMC schedule, and those are the home doubleheader verus Fisher (20-25, 4-6 AMC) on Saturday at 1 p.m. Regardless of the outcome of those games, Point Park can't be caught in the standings by Fisher or Walsh (7-5 AMC), the only teams within striking distance.
It is the second-consecutive AMC Regular Season title for Point Park, which has surpassed last year's win total by one. The Pioneers finished last year 38-13.
Derek Peluso and Sean Clark each picked up complete-game victories for Point Park on Friday. Peluso, a senior from Zelienople, Pa., pitched a three-hit shutout in winning game one, 5-0. For Peluso, a four-year starter, it was the final home start of his career.
Peluso (7-1) finished with four strikeouts and three walks, and he let his errorless defense work well behind him. He faced on 12 batters through the first four innings as the Pioneers' infield turned two double plays in that span. Fisher started to get base runners in the later innings, but Peluso stranded two runners in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Clark (4-0) picked up right where Peluso left off. Although Fisher struck for a single run in the top of the first, the Point Park offense gave Clark plenty of support with seven runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. That was more than enough for Clark, a junior from Titusville, Pa., who effectively scattered eight hits in seven innings.
Clark collected five strikeouts and kept the damage from the eight hits to a minimun because he didn't walk a batter.
In game one, Point Park scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings and added a couple of insurance runs in the sixth.
With the the score 0-0 in the third, Tom Birko led off with a double, advance to second on Rob Novia's bunt and scored on Lee Bodnar's double. In the fourth, the Pioneers used three singles -- by Steve Dujka, Don McDuffee and Dillon Sauers -- to load the bases for Birko's sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Bodnar led off with a walk, stole second and was knocked in by Ossie Alfonzo's base hit. Novia gave Peluso some breathing room and a 5-0 lead with his two-run double to the right-field corner in the sixth. Sauers had reached on an error, and Birko walked to set that up.
Novia was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, and he was the only Point Park player with a multi-hit game in game one. The Pioneers totaled nine hits.
In game two, Point Park scored seven runs -- six of which were unearned -- in the the bottom of the first. Fisher used five pitchers in the game, and they started their long afternoon of issuing free passes in the first inning.
Point Park's seven runs in the first came on four hits, two walks, two hit batters and a key error with two outs that extended the inning long enough for six more, unearned runs. Fisher starter Carlos Ditren lasted 0.2 innings. The inning was finished off with two-run singles from McDuffee and Birko and an RBI base hit from Novia.
The five Fisher pitchers combined to allow seven walks and four hit batters. By adding in a couple of errors by the Falcons' defense,seven of those 13 base runners came around to score. The final could have been more lopsided had Point Park not left 11 men on base.
Point Park sat on its 7-1 lead until adding on three more in the sixth. A base hit, a hit batter and a walked loaded the bases for pinch hitter Jonathan Tasis, who ripped a two-run single. The next batter, McDuffee, brought home a run with a base knock.
McDuffee, a junior from Champaign, Ill., who is playing for the injured Javier Marticorena in right field, was 2 for 4 with three RBIs in game two. Alfonzo was 2 for 4 with an RBIs, and Birko was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
If Point Park reaches 40 wins, it will do so for the seventh time in the 45-year history of the program. The last time Point Park reached 40 wins was when it was 46-6-2 in 1998 and reached the NAIA World Series.
Of the Pioneers' six previous 40-win seasons, four ended with an NAIA World Series appearance. The record for wins in a single season at Point Park was set by the 1986 team that was 51-8 and finished third at the NAIA World Series.
The AMC will not hold a tournament this year. Instead, Point Park will visit the Unaffiliated Group AMC/KIAC/GCAC Tournament May 1-4 in Kinston, N.C. There, the Pioneers will have a chance to get an automatic bid to the national tournament if they win the six-team, double-elimnation tournament. The first state of the national tournament is the NAIA Opening Round May 10-14, for which Point Park is also well-positioned for an at-large bid given its No. 9 national ranking.
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