Point Park baseball turned back to its winning ways last week, sweeping back-to-back series against Shawnee State University and River State Conference (RSC) rival Midway University. The wins grow the Pioneers’ win streak to six in a row, and the recent success has gained the team some national attention. As of April 18, according to the NAIA website and rankings list, Point Park currently stands at 25th in the nation out of 212 teams. The only other team in the RSC to be ranked this season is Indiana University Southeast, who is currently standing in 18th after a series win over the Pioneers previously.
The first game of the week for the Pioneers was a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 13, against the Shawnee State Bears, with Point Park coming out on top 6-3 and 9-6 in the home games. Game one was an early offensive showing for the Pioneers, who would put up three runs in the first and third innings alone to essentially put the game out of reach early on. Junior Ed Pfluger would help lead the Pioneers’ offense with two hits and an RBI, followed up by senior Jouseph Renovales with a two-RBI double, and Junior Carlos Sanchez, who would go two for three and pick up two RBIs as well. Junior Jonathan Pacheco would get the start, going 6.1 innings while giving up three runs (two earned) and striking out five in the win. Sophomore Easton Klein would get the final two outs of the game to secure the win.
Game two was a little more difficult for the Pioneers, with Point Park scoring three in the bottom of the first before giving up two runs in the second and third to fall behind 4-3. The Pioneers would then bounce back with two in the fourth and then four more in the sixth to put the game away, even with giving up two in the seventh to win in 9-6. Sanchez would once again help out on the offense, going two for three with an RBI. Junior Emille Mirrillo would be the one to give the Pioneers the lead for good with a two-run bomb for his only hit on the night, but a big one nonetheless. Senior Christian Negron would go five innings in the start, getting the win while giving up four runs (two earned) and striking out three. Klein would come in to finish off the final two innings once again, striking out two while doing so.
“We played for each other, and we trust the guy behind us,” junior Luis Mujica said. “We don’t depend on two or three guys the whole time. Everyone on the mound, hitting, or defensive can get the job done, and we always pick each other up regardless of the situation.”
The next series was a three-game sweep of the Midway Eagles, with the Pioneers’ winning game one on Friday, April 16, 11-2, and then taking the doubleheader on Saturday, April 17, 12-9 and 7-5. Game one was an offensive showing for the Pioneers in the later innings, scoring five in the top of the sixth after being tied 2-2 to put the Pioneers ahead for the rest of the game, also scoring a run in the top of the eighth and three in the ninth. Renovales would come up big with two triples and three RBIs to help boost the Pioneers’ lead. It was also history for senior starter Nicholas Beardsley, who would go five innings and give up two unearned runs. His six strikeouts would help him break the career strikeout record for Point Park, which previously stood at 219. Beardsley stands at 225 currently to hold the record. Senior Ruben Ramirez would come in for relief, going three innings and striking out six, and Klein would come in for the final inning to end it.
Game two of the next day would be an offensive showing for both teams in the back half of the contest, with the two combining for seven runs in the final two innings. After six, Morillo would help the Pioneers take the lead again in the seventh, thanks to an RBI single. After loading up the bases in the eighth, Pfluger and Morillo would both line base hits to score a pair each. Sanchez would then drive home a run himself to help the effort. The Pioneers would give up five in the bottom of the ninth but would hold on to the win still. Senior Cole Horew would start and go six innings, giving up four runs (three earned) and struck out eight to get the win. Junior Jonathan Pacheco would come in and pitch 2.1 innings and give up four runs as well (three earned), and Klein would help close out the game in the bottom of the ninth again. Game three would be another close game, with the game being a 5-5 tie heading into the fifth when the Pioneers were once again able to come away with the win. Luis Mujica would take care of the game himself, scoring the go-ahead run in the fifth and an insurance run in the seventh with RBI singles in both innings. Mujica would pick up four RBIs in the contest as well. Senior Ryan Huber would only go three innings in the start, giving up five runs but only two earned. Negron would come in to relieve Huber, going only .2 innings before Ramirez would come in and shut down the Eagles’ offense with 3.1 innings of work, striking out seven in the dominant ending.
“We just need to play like it’s the last game of the season and keep the foot on the gas pedal every pitch,” Mujica said. “We just have to keep on playing clean and find ways to win.”
The Pioneers now stand at 29-9 on the season, sitting in second place in the RSC, standing in a tie with Asbury University and just behind IU Southeast. The Pioneers will have played a doubleheader on Monday, April 19, against Shawnee State again on the road this time. The Pioneers will then come back home for a three-game weekend series against Indiana University Kokomo, starting with a doubleheader on Friday, April 23, and then ending with a game on Saturday, April 24. The team then has a doubleheader on Monday, April 26, Bryant & Stratton-Albany for another doubleheader, and will end the regular season with a doubleheader against Oakland City on Friday, April 30, and a single game on Saturday, May 1. All home games are available to stream on the Point Park sports website.