Baseball heads to Central Florida for RussMatt Invitational, start RSC play against Alice Lloyd

Pioneers go 4-2 over Invitational, start conference play with sweep of Eagles


Photo by Jacalyn Fay

Junior Catch Michali Brito hits a shot to Centerfield against Judson in the Pioneers sweep of RussMatt Invitational

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

The Pioneers traveled to central Florida for their annual spring break trip this year, taking part in the annual RussMatt Central Florida Invitational after visiting the number one ranked team in the nation, Southeastern University. The team went 6-2 over the final weekend of February and first weekend of March, after they swept the RussMatt Invitational and Alice Lloyd, but fell in the double header against Southeastern. The team now stands at 9-4 on the season and continue to receive votes to be placed in the NAIA Top 25 rankings. 

The Pioneers traveled to Lakeland, FL to take on the Southeastern Fire on their home field on February 24. Game one saw the defending NAIA champions take an early lead, as they scored one in the bottom of the first. A solo homer from junior catcher Michali Brito tied the game at one run each in the top of the second. The Fire kept the Pioneers offense down for the rest of the contest, as the home team scored two in the bottom of the second and picked up runs in the bottom of the third and fifth to take a 5-1 lead. Point Park’s offense did not wear their hitting shoes —  their only hit in the seven inning contest came from Brito’s solo homer and the final score stood at 5-1.

Game two was of similar results for the Pioneers. The Fire found a run in the bottom of the first and scored five in the bottom of the second to jump out to an early 6-0 lead. Another run came in the bottom of the third for the red and white, before junior infielder Eddie Javier Jr went deep in the top of the fourth to make it a 7-1 game to break up the shutout. Javier Jr homered again in the top of the sixth, but the offense was too late. PPU fell 8-2. 

The RussMatt Invitational was a major turn around for the Pioneers, as they faced the Judson University Eagles in a double header on February 26. After a quiet offense against the top ranked team in the nation, Point Park’s bats exploded in the first inning as Javier Jr continued to fill up the score sheet with a two-run shot to left field to make it a 2-0 game in the top of the first. Sophomore catcher Jordon Campbell joined in on the fun with a solo shot to left field to grab a  3-0 advantage before the end of the first. Jordan Campbell scored another in the top of the third off an error from Judson, followed up by a sacrifice fly by junior infielder Carlos Burroughs. Judson scored their first run on a homer in the bottom of the third, but Point Park rallied for six runs in the fourth. Four runs were scored on wild pitches alone. Point Park put up another crooked number in the top of the sixth to score seven runs in the seventh. The Pioneers boasted a 20-2 victory through seven innings to start the invitational.

Game two was a much closer affair between the Eagles and Pioneers, as Judson found three runs in the top of the first off of a pair of singles to make it 3-0 before the Pioneers got a chance to hit. The bottom of the second saw the Pioneers pick up a pair of runs, thanks to a wild pitch once again and an RBI single off the bat of sophomore infielder Carlos Martinez to make it a 3-2 ballgame. 

The bottom of the fifth was the turning point for the Pioneers as a pair of RBI singles from junior and sophomore infielders Isaac Santana and Omar Morillo handed the green and gold the lead at 4-3. Sophomore infielder Carlos Martinez gave the Pioneers the insurance run with an RBI after an error from Judson. The Eagles attempted the comeback in the top of the sixth with an RBI groundout to make it 6-4, but the Pioneers bullpen shut the door on the Eagles to come away with the sweep. 

The second double header on February 27 saw the Pioneers take on the Cornerstone University Eagles and the offense showed out in game one once again. A sacrifice fly by Javier Jr. and a double by Santana made it 2-0 in the top of the first before Burroughs mashed a solo shot to left in the top of the second. Cornerstone found three runs in the bottom of the same inning to tie the game at three before a double from Santana and a two run bomb from senior outfielder Justin Oakley made it a 6-3 game in the top of the third. Point Park picked up another three runs in the top of the fourth thanks to a two run single from Campbell and a wild pitch that scored a run. The two teams traded runs in the fifth, as Point Park then scored two in the sixth from a Burroughs double and four in the seventh to blow the game open, with the final score at 16-8. 

Game two against Cornerstone saw less runs cross the plate after 24 total runs were scored in game one. Both starters dominated in the first three innings before the Pioneers broke through in the bottom of the fourth. Oakley, who had been hot the entirety of the road trip south, ripped a two-run home run to left field to break the tie, and sophomore outfielder Jared Campbell, scored in the following inning on a passed ball that allowed him to steal home and a 3-0 lead. Senior starting pitcher Sebastian Rodriguez strutted his stuff against the Eagles to throw a complete seven inning shutout to conclude the RussMatt sweep. 

The Pioneers traveled north a few states this weekend to start RSC play, taking on another Eagles team in Alice Lloyd University on March 4 and 5. Saturday was a double header between the two conference rivals, with neither team being able to generate any score until the fourth inning. Burroughs continued to stay hot with a double to start the scoring affair. A passed ball, an error, and a Jared Campbell single generated five runs to jump out to the early lead. 

The Eagles scored two of their own in the bottom of the six to make it 5-2 before the offense fired up again for the Pioneers late in the game. An RBI double in the top of the eighth by Martinez was followed up in the top of the ninth with four runs, including a pair of Martinez and Oakley singles, to finish the game at 10-2. 

Game two was the same story for the Pioneers offense; explosive. Alice Lloyd scored first in the bottom of the first with a two run shot, before Point Park’s bats responded instantly with four in the top of the second — including a Santana solo shot to right. Morrilo singled home a run in the third, which the Eagles responded to with a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-3 through three. The offense took off in the fifth inning once again and put up eight runs, capped by back-to-back homers by Santana and Brito as they continued to start the season on a high note. A passed ball scored another Pioneer run in the top of the sixth which allowed the Pioneers to walk away with another massive 14-3 win.

The series finale on Sunday was another offensive swamping, with Point Park starting with an RBI groundout in the top of the first from Javier Jr. The Eagles responded instantly with three in the bottom of the inning. The Pioneers put the pedal to the floor the next inning, putting up six runs, capped with a three run bomb by Jared Campbell to make it a 7-3 score. Alice Lloyd scored a run in the bottom of the same inning, then another three in the third, before Point Park found their footing again with four in the fourth, including another three run bomb; this time by Santana. The Eagles found a run in the fifth to make it a 11-8 game, with neither team being able to score again until the eighth. Point Park ended the game in style, mercy ruling the Eagles with eight runs in the eighth, including homers from both of the Campbell brothers, and two homers in the same inning from Santana to bring his total to three on the day. Alice Lloyd was unable to respond in the bottom of the inning, ending the game at 19-8 in another trouncing. 

The team will look to continue their dominant start to the season with a road trip to Ohio, where the Pioneers will take on the No. 22 ranked University of Northwestern Ohio on March 9. The team will stick around the Midwest, taking on the University of Rio Grande in an RSC series starting on March 10 and ending on March 11. Streaming information and schedule changes are available on the Point Park athletics website.