Pioneers finish off sweep of Rio baseball

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

BUTLER, Pa. — In Saturday’s come-from-behind win over the University of Rio Grande, No. 14 Point Park University did its best to break the RedStorm’s spirit.

With a doubleheader sweep on Sunday, the Pioneers took a step toward breaking the RedStorm’s back.

Point Park posted another late rally for a 7-4 victory in game one, while pulling away down the stretch for a 7-2 win in game two to sweep the twinbill and the weekend series from the RedStorm at Kelly Automotive Park.

The Pioneers finished the day at 29-2 overall and 18-0 in the River States Conference.

Rio Grande dropped to 16-22 overall and 9-9 in league play with the two losses.

The RedStorm now find themselves tied with Indiana University Kokomo for fourth place in the RSC standings just one game ahead of Brescia University and two games in front of WVU-Tech, who currently sit in sixth and seventh place, respectively. Only the top six teams will advance to the conference tournament beginning May 3 at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.

Rio Grande coughed up a pair of two-run leads in the opener. The RedStorm led 2-0 after one inning and, after PPU tied the game in the third, a pair of fourth inning markers made it 4-2.

The Pioneers pushed across single markers in the fifth and sixth innings to knot the score at 4-4 and then scored three times in the seventh inning to set the final score.

The go-ahead runs in the seventh inning were all unearned as a result of a pair of Rio errors.

Chris Hernandez had three hits and drove in two runs for Point Park, while Stefan Mrkonja had two hits and and a run batted in and Yuri Sucart finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Ben Herstine and Billy Kidd also drove in one run each for the Pioneers.

Felix Castillo picked up his seventh win in as many decisions for PPU, while Addison Domingo – Saturday’s winning pitcher in relief – recorded his seventh save.

Senior Kameron Herring (Heath, OH) went 2-for-4, including a two-run first inning single, and sophomore Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) drove in a run for the RedStorm.

Senior right-hander Zach Harvey (Kenova, WV) started and suffered the loss in a route-going performance for Rio.

Point Park scored once in each of the first two innings of the nightcap, but the RedStorm countered with single runs in the third and fourth to tie the game at 2-2.

The Pioneers took the lead for good with a run of their own in the home half of the fourth inning, before blowing things open with three runs in the fifth and another run in the sixth.

Hernandez went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI, while Mrkonja was 3-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored. Richard Perez added a home run and two RBI in the winning effort.

Nick Bucci allowed seven hits, but just two runs over four innings to get his fifth win in as many decisions. Domingo allowed two hits and fanned four over 2-1/3 scoreless innings for his eighth save.

Shockley, seniors Cody Blackburn (Amanda, OH) and Ty Warnimont (Rio Grande, OH) and junior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) all had two hits in a losing cause for Rio Grande. Shockley and Warnimont both drove in one run each.

Junior Dalton Wilburn (Ashville, OH) – the reigning RSC Pitcher of the Week – started and suffered the loss for the RedStorm, allowing nine hits and seven runs – six earned – over 5-1/3 innings.

Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Wednesday when former Mid-South Conference rival – and 20th-ranked – Campbellsville University visits Bob Evans Field for a non-conference doubleheader.

First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.