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Point Park returns to NAIA tourney

| Thursday, May 10, 2012, 1:19 a.m.
Point Park catcher Ossie Alfonso and manager/coach Loren Torres during the game against West Viriginia Tech at Greentree Park on Tuesday March 27, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

As the No. 12 Point Park baseball team begins its quest for the NAIA World Series, it has one goal in mind: 11.

The Pioneers aim to add to their 10 all-time NAIA World Series appearances, which ranks fifth all time. Point Park's last appearance was in 1998.

The Pioneers, who received an at-large bid, open the Marion (Ind.) bracket as the second seed and face third-seeded Taylor (Ind.) at 4 p.m. today at Indiana Wesleyan's Wildcat Field.

“It has been our goal from the beginning of the year: making the World Series and seeing how far we can go,” said coach Loren Torres, who is in his third season. “We're expecting every guy in the lineup to show up and have a big game.”

Third baseman Lee Bodnar (Chartiers Valley) is hitting .320 and leads the team with 44 RBI, and left fielder Rob Novia and second baseman Tom Birko have tallied 39 RBI apiece and are batting .343 and .329, respectively.

Point Park (48-9, 11-0 AMC), however, will look to its pitchers for the biggest impact, with right-handed starter Derek Peluso carrying a 2.27 ERA and fellow righty Sean Clark a 2.55 ERA.

“We're going to go as far as our pitching takes us, and this tour will be no different,” Torres said.

After last week's Unaffiliated Tournament in Kingston, N.C., where Point Park advanced to the final series but fell to Asbury (Ky.), Torres said the Pioneers will have to improve on hitting with runners in scoring position if they hope to reach their World Series goal.

“We're very excited to be here,” Torres said. “It's always a big opportunity when you're playing the first round.”

Including Point Park, 46 teams will participate in the NAIA tournament, which is broken down into nine, five-team brackets — Lewis-Clark State received an automatic bid as World Series host.

The nine bracket winners travel to Lewiston, Idaho, for the World Series from May 25 through June 1.

Meredith Qualls is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5637.

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