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Hot bats cooled in RSC play

Written By Jordan Slobodinsky, Co-Opinions Editor

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Coming off a third-place finish in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) last year, Point Park baseball took its talents to Florida last week in preparation for the 2017 season.

The Pioneers enter this season after losing 7 seniors to graduation including Gold Glove outfielder Demetrius Moorer, All-KIAC First-Team pitcher Jason Kim and All-KIAC Second-Team pitcher Jarrad Brown.

Point Park finished 28-24 in 2016. The Pioneers were ranked third in the River States Conference (RSC) Preseason Coaches’ Poll, behind Rio Grande and Indiana University Southeast.

The Pioneers attended the RussMatt Central Florida invitational in Winter Haven, Fla. from February 25-28. In its first competitive play of the season, Point Park managed to split two games with Trinity Baptist (Fla.) College by winning 6-1 and then falling 7-3.

The next day, the team split a pair of games with two separate schools. The Pioneers rallied for a 12-7 win against Davenport after trailing 7-1 in the bottom of the third inning. After that, it was lights out from Point Park’s bullpen, as junior Gustavo Barbosa pitched 3.2 innings while allowing only two hits.

Davenport still threatened to score in the sixth inning leading 7-4, but reliever Keenan Smith came in and shut down Davenport’s offense, causing them to leave two men stranded. Point Park gained some ground in the seventh inning, cutting the lead to 7-6 and eventually gained the lead in the eighth inning at 10-7.

The Pioneers were able to score two more runs in the ninth, securing a 12-7 win. Smith received the win with his 2.1 hitless innings.

The Pioneers fell later in the day to the same momentum that brought them victory. Point Park starting pitcher Amiel Abreu threw six innings against Judson University (3-3), giving up just two runs and left the mound with a promising 4-2 lead.

But the bullpen was not as sturdy as it was in the earlier game, giving up five runs en route to a 7-6 extra-inning loss. The result left Point Park at 2-2 after the team’s first four games of competition in Florida.

The Pioneers’ offense exploded for resulting in 27 runs and 36 hits in a pair of games against NCAA Division II University of Virginia-Wise. Despite this powerful showing of offense, the Pioneers still only managed to split the doubleheader.

Point Park scored eight runs on eight hits in the second inning of the first contest to lead to an eventual 18-3 victory. Richard Perez led the Pioneers at the plate, going 4-for-6 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs.

Nicholas Beardsley threw six shutout innings for the Pioneers, allowing just four hits and did not walk a single batter.

The second game turned out to be a different story for Point Park once again, falling 13-9. Point Park gained an early 4-0 lead, but it was lost when UVA-Wise (5-8) put up eight runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Again, Point Park left the day with an even win-loss record, sitting at 3-3. The final day at the invitational, the Pioneers began to show that its offense could make them a legitimate contender this year.

Point Park came away with a 6-5 win over Mt. Vernon Nazarene after trailing 5-2 in the sixth inning. The Pioneers rallied for three runs during the final offensive stand in the seventh inning.

The rally was capped off by Daniel Sanchez’s game-winning single that scored Logan Linder, who had hit an RBI double earlier in the inning.

Smith received another victory in the contest after tossing 1.2 innings in relief of starter Roberto Rodriguez.

Rodriguez gave up six hits in six innings, including two home runs.

Point Park then met with Judson again and came out victorious 19-10 after another offensive explosion. With the game tied 10-10 after five innings, the Pioneers managed to 5 runs in the sixth inning and 4 runs in the seventh inning to secure the win.

Point Park returned north to open conference play Saturday. The Pioneers split another doubleheader on the road at Rio Grande, losing 8-1 in the first game and then winning 5-4 in 9 innings in the second game.

The following day the Pioneers dropped two straight games to Rio Grande 4-3, and 3-0 bringing their record to 6-6 on the season.

The Pioneers will continue conference play this weekend at West Virginia Tech.

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