BUTLER, Pa. — Fourteenth-ranked Point Park University scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and then survived a rally by the University of Rio Grande in the top of the ninth for a 5-4 win over the RedStorm, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference baseball play at frigid Kelly Automotive Field.
The game was delayed by four hours at the start as a result of snow.
The Pioneers improved to 26-2 overall and 16-0 in the RSC with the win.
Rio Grande dropped to 16-20 overall and 9-7 in conference play as a result of the loss.
Point Park’s two-run eighth inning snapped a 3-3 deadlock.
Rio senior starter Osvaldo Duran (Guayanilla, P.R.) hit Jake Horew with a pitch to begin the inning and then threw a wild pitch to advance him into scoring position.
Chris Hernandez then reached safely on a sacrifice bunt attempt, while Horew advanced to third, but Horew was forced to hold at third moments later as pinch-runner David Barefoot moved to second when Duran induced Erik Montero into a groundout to first base.
Richard Perez was then intentionally walked to load the bases to set up a force play at any base, but the Pioneers spoiled the plan when Horew scored as Rio failed to turn a would-be inning-ending double-play on Ben Hernstine’s grounder to second.
Duran was lifted in favor of senior reliever Jacob Hastings (Commercial Point, OH), who promptly allowed a single by Billy Kidd which scored Barefoot to make it 5-3.
Hastings escaped any further damage by getting Andres Herrera to hit into an inning-ending force play.
Rio’s ninth-inning rally began with a one-out walk to sophomore Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH). A wild pitch moved him into scoring position and a single up the middle by Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) brought him home to make it 5-4.
Junior Zac Morris (Heath, OH) came on to run for Shockley, but the rally – and the game – ended moments later when senior Cody Blackburn bounced into a 3-6-3 double-play.
Rio Grande grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a home run by junior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.), but the Pioneers grabbed the lead in the bottom of the frame on a Duran wild pitch and an RBI groundout by Hernandez.
The RedStorm tied the contest in the fourth on a triple and subsequent steal of home by sophomore Eli Daniels (Minford, OH) and regained the advantage in the fifth on another home run by Rodriguez – his eighth of the season.
Point Park tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out single by Horew, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
Duran suffered the loss, allowing five hits and four earned runs over 7-2/3 innings.
Addison Domingo picked up his fourth win in as many decisions in relief for the Pioneers, while Kidd had two hits and Montero added a double for Point Park.
The two teams will close out their weekend series with a doubleheader on Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.
The series was originally set to be a doubleheader each day, with the final game not counting toward the RSC standings.
As a result of Saturday’s late start, officials decided to cancel the fourth (non-league) contest.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.