Avery Point is headed back to Division II World Series
Rochester, N.Y. - UConn-Avery Point played its best baseball at a perfect time.
The Pointers rode a potent offense, solid pitching and sound defense to the NJCAA Division II East District championship on Sunday.
With a 12-7 victory over Monroe Community College in the title game, the Pointers completed a three-game tournament sweep and earned the program's fifth trip, including third in four years, to the Division II World Series.
Sophomore Matt Martinez was named tournament most valuable player after going 7-for-12 in three games, finishing with five home runs, 11 RBI and eight runs scored. He had only two homers during the regular season.
"It was fun," coach Roger Bidwell said of the weekend. "A lot of people contributed to the success. It wasn't one guy. It just so happened that Martinez was dominant. We really fed off his great series. He put on a show."
Avery Point (38-8) had added incentive to avoid an if necessary game against Monroe. The weather resembled more April than May, with a cool wind blowing and temperatures in the low 50's. Plus, pitching depth was a concern for the Pointers.
"It was not a nice day," Bidwell said. "We certainly wanted to get it over with in the first game and it worked out that way. We swung the bats a little bit."
The Pointers took advantage of a hitter's wind to pile up the runs over the weekend, scoring 29 in three games.
On Sunday, they broke a 4-4 tie and seized the lead for good with four runs in the fourth inning. Martinez's sacrifice fly put them in front and New London High School graduate Matt Greene's two-out, three-run home run created an 8-4 cushion.
Nick Delotto's two-run single stretched the lead to 10-4 in the sixth. Martinez's fifth homer of the tournament, a two-run blast in the seventh, increased the advantage to 12-4.
New London's Edgard Santiago (4-1), one of Avery Point's most reliable pitchers in postseason, relieved starter Alex Roger and went six strong innings to earn the win. He allowed three runs, five hits and struck out four.
"We've used him out of the bullpen the last two weeks and he's really done a terrific job," Bidwell said.
Martinez had two hits, three RBI and three runs scored and also threw out a runner from his right field position. Alex Miller had two hits, an RBI and scored three while Chris Mayhew had two hits and an RBI.
It was Avery Point's second straight win over Monroe. Ace Zach Albin handcuffed Monroe on Saturday, going the distance in a 5-0 win to set up Sunday's championship round. The Pointers also beat Rockland Community College, 12-8, Saturday.
"I thought we played better in this tournament than we did in the New England (tournament)," Bidwell said. "Albin pitched nine shutout innings against Monroe who have been averaging eight runs a game.
"What happens is hitting gets contagious and it helped us the wind was blowing out."
Avery Point now prepares for the College World Series, which runs from May 25-June 2 in Enid, Okla. The Pointers last appeared there in 2011.
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