Whits Suffer Tough-to-Swallow Baseball Losses in Portland

News Release Date:
Saturday, March 24

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The setbacks were tough to swallow as Whitman College dropped 1-0 and 12-4 baseball decisions to George Fox Saturday afternoon in Portland, Ore.

George Fox 1
Whitman 0

Game 1, Box Score

George Fox 12,
Whitman 4 

Game 2, Box Score 

Junior right-hander Justin Weeks tossed a gem for Whitman in the opener, but senior Brian Ranta hurled a no-hitter for the Bruins and got the win when his teammates pushed across an unearned run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

In the nightcap, freshman righty Will Thompson blanked the Bruins on three hits through five innings as Whitman headed to the bottom of the sixth with a 4-0 lead.

Justin Weeks

That's when the tide turned in favor of George Fox. Thompson lost his shutout when the first two hitters smacked doubles to left field. A one-out single through the left side followed by an infield single made it 4-2 Whitman and ended Thompson's day.

Freshman reliever Spencer Hobson struggled with his control, walking his first hitter before an RBI-bunt single and hit-batsman with the bases loaded evened the score at 4-4.

Sophomore reliever Brett Lambert followed Hobson to the hill, fielding a bunt attempt to get the runner at home for the inning's second out. But an infield throwing error on the next play gave George Fox a pair of unearned runs and a 6-4 lead. The Bruins then broke the game open in the eighth inning, scoring six more runs on five hits and two errors.

Will Thompson

Whitman opened the game two scoring with a run in the fourth inning. Sophomore Kyle Buckham reached on a bunt single, continued to second on the pitcher's throwing error and scored when sophomore Cam Young singled to center for a 1-0 lead.

The Missionaries stretched that lead to 4-0 when three freshmen got the offense rolling in the top of the sixth. MacLean Harned led off with a single, Eli Mathieu was hit by a pitch and Jonny Chow advanced his teammates with a sacrifice bunt.

After Buckham walked to load the sacks, a two-out wild pitch scored Harned. Sophomore Aaron Cohen then delivered a big two-run double to left center.

Kyle Buckham

In game one, it was all about pitching as both Weeks for Whitman and Ranta for George Fox were brilliant.

After Weeks hit a batter with one out in the first inning, third baseman Chris Andrews fielded a grounder to start an around-the-horn double play. 

Counting the last batter of the first inning, Weeks retired 18 straight hitters, allowing just three balls to be hit out of the infield. The string was snapped when Josh Rapacz singled for the Bruins with two outs in the seventh, but Weeks fanned the next hitter to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Ranta struck out nine Missionaries over his first seven innings.

Whitman threatend in the top of the fifth when sophomore Kyle Moyes and freshman Peter Valentine worked Ranta for back-to-back one-out walks. Sophomore Chris Konolige sacrificed both runners into scoring position, but Ranta buckled down to end the inning with a strike-out.

George Fox mounted its own threat with one out in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases on an infield hit, single through the right side and dropped fly ball in the outfield. 

Aaron Cohen

Jared Chase, the next hitter, lofted what the Bruins hoped would be a run-scoring sacrifice fly to right, but Cohen caught the ball and rifled it home to nail the runner who tagged at third base and tried to score.

Ranta retired the Missionaries in order in the top of the ninth to finish his nine-inning no-hitter.

Weeks, working on a three-hitter, got the first out on a ground ball to start the bottom of the ninth. But Whitman turned to its bullpen after Weeks plunked the next batter, Taylor Hunter, with a pitch.

Lambert, making his first relief appearance of the day, struck out his first batter as Hunter stole second base.

With Danny Clifford at the plate and the game one-out from extra innings, Hunter stole third and scooted home with the winning run when the catcher's throw hit the bag and bounded into left field.

Whitman (2-9 NWC, 2-21) and the Bruins (7-4 NWC, 11-12) are playing their weekend series at Concordia University's Hilken Stadium because of weather-related unplayable conditions in the outfield at the George Fox field in Newberg.

The two teams return to Hilken Stadium at noon Sunday to complete the series.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu