Baseball Whits Rally Twice But Fall Run Short Against Pirates
News Release Date:
Sunday, April 29
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- A seventh-inning rally sparked by home runs by sophomores Chris Konolige and Aaron Cohen fell a run short as Whitman College dropped a season-ending 8-7 Northwest Conference baseball decision to Whitworth Sunday afternoon in Spokane, Wash.
The victory gives Whitworth (19-5 NWC, 26-13-1) a share of the conference title and sends the Pirates to the NCAA Division III post-season for the first that school's history.
Whitworth shares the NWC title with Pacific (19-5 NWC, 22-15), but the Pirates get the NWC's automatic berth in the national championship tournament because they took two of three games from the Boxers during the regular season
Whitman (5-19 NWC, 5-34) twice threatened to knock Whitworth out of the championship picture.
The Missionaries, down 3-1 to start the top of the sixth, scored three times that inning to grab a one-run lead.
After freshmen MacLean Harned, Eli Mathieu and Jonny Chow loaded the bases with a string of singles (Chow reached on a bunt single), sophomore Cam Young drove a two-run double into the left-center gap.
With two outs in the inning, the Pirates chose to reload the bases by issuing an intentional pass to Whitman sophomore slugger Kyle Moyes. The strategy backfired when the next hitter, Cohen, walked on five pitches to force home the go-ahead run.
That forced Whitworth's second pitching change of the game, but reliever Spencer Anslett kept his team's deficit at 4-3 by getting the final out of the inning on a fly ball to center. The Missionaries stranded a total of 12 base runners over the first six innings.
The Pirates came right back in the bottom of the sixth, squaring the game at 4-4 with a lead-off single, sacrifice bunt and RBI-single. After Whitman's starter, freshman lefty Spencer Hobson, walked the next hitter, the Missionaries turned to their bullpen and the Pirates capitalized.
After a balk call with a runner on third made it 5-4 Whitworth, the Pirates pushed across three more runs on a pair of singles sandwiched around a run-scoring ground out.
Whitman was retired in order in the seventh but the made things interesting in the top of the eighth, sparked by Konolige's lead-off home run to left field -- his first collegiate round-tripper.
With two outs in the inning, Moyes reached on a Pirate fielding error and came trotting home when Cohen launched his fourth home of the season over the left-center fence. That sliced the Whitworth lead to 8-7.
Sophomore reliever Brett Lambert, Whitman's third pitcher of the day, kept the home team from extending its lead in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, getting those six outs without giving up a hit. He fanned two, walked one and hit a batter while also benefiting from the Whitman infield's second double play of the game.
Whitman twice put the equalizing run on base in the top of the ninth against Whitworth closer Jason Renner.
After Harned led off with a walk and was erased when the Pirate infield turned two, Chow rapped his third single of the day into center. He also scooted into second base when liner was misplayed by the center fielder for Whitworth's fifth error of the game.
But Renner got the final out on a fly ball to center to nail down the victory and record his seventh save of the season.
The loss was the sixth one-run setback of the season for Whitman. The Missionaries dropped seven other games by two- or three-run margins.
Chow finished his day with three hits, boosting his batting average during the NWC season to .280.
Konolige had two hits for Whitman, which out-hit the Pirates 10-9 but also left 13 runners on base for the game, three more than Whitworth.
Whitman played the season with just one senior and one junior on its roster.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org