Point Park advances in NAIA World Series
Pitcher Sean Clark struggled with his control and hit five College of Idaho batters.
The rest of the Point Park baseball team didn't have much trouble hitting the Coyotes' pitchers.
Seventh-seeded Point Park used a five-run fifth inning Friday to secure a 7-3 victory in the opening round of the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
The decisive frame came after Clark hit three batters — he plunked five in all — and featured RBI singles from third baseman Lee Bodnar (Chartiers Valley), catcher Ossie Alfonzo and center fielder Tom Pasinski, the West Mifflin product's a two-run shot up the middle.
First baseman Steve Dujka also put down a suicide squeeze bunt during the rally.
“We knew Clark was going to settle down and give us an opportunity to win the game,” Point Park coach Loren Torres said. “We didn't panic, didn't press and played our game.”
Alfonzo, right fielder Don McDuffee and shortstop Dillon Sauers (South Fayette) had two hits apiece for Point Park, which plays No. 2 seed Lee at 6 p.m. today. No. 10 College of Idaho dropped into the loser's bracket of the 10-team, double-elimination tournament.
Point Park (52-9) set a school record for wins, surpassing the 1986 team that went 51-8 and finished third in the NAIA World Series.
“That was one of our goals,” Alfonzo said of the single-season record. “Now that we have that first goal, we just have to go for another win (today).”
College of Idaho took a 3-0 lead in the third inning when Zachary Fabricius singled through the right side for a run, and Izaac Garsez doubled to deep left center past a diving Pasinski to score Brett Ward. Tanner Hodges' sacrifice fly gave the Coyotes a third run.
The Pioneers got two runs back when Alfonzo sneaked a bases-loaded single through the right side to score McDuffee and Sauers.
Then, Point Park sent nine men to the plate in the fifth and never trailed again, as Clark worked seven-plus innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked one, resulting in a high school-like pitch count of 121. Horacio Acosta recorded the final six outs.
According to Torres, Clark's brief control lapses stemmed from a sidearm fastball that looked better in the bullpen than on the mound.
“I don't know if you want to call it effective wildness today, but I'd like to give myself the benefit of the doubt,” said Clark, who improved to 8-0 this season. “Me and Ossie worked well together. We wanted to come inside a lot today, and sometimes I just came in a little too far.”
Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.