Richards, Nelson Snare Baseball Honors

News Release Date:
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- For the first time in recent memory, two Whitman College athletes have been named Northwest Conference Student Athletes of the Week for men's baseball.

Jay Richards, a senior infielder who sparked Whitman to a doubleheader sweep of Lewis & Clark last Saturday, got the award for hitters and position players.

Jake Nelson, a junior who tossed a masterful three-hit complete game in Saturday's nightcap, scooped up the award for pitchers.

Jay Richards
Jake Nelson

Richards and Nelson are two of the relatively few veterans on a young team that came within one inning of taking all three weekend games from Lewis & Clark at Borleske Stadium.

Whitman won Saturday's two games 9-3 and 6-1 and held a 2-1 lead heading into the ninth inning of Sunday's finale. The Pioneers rallied for four runs in their last at-bat, however, to escape with a 5-3 victory.

Richards, a senior captain, smacked six hits in nine plate appearances in Saturday's twinbill. Hitting in the two hole, he stroked three hits in both games.

In game one, after dropping down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning, he singled and scored as Whitman took the lead with a three-run third inning. His lead-off single in the fifth inning triggered a four-run outburst.

After reaching base on an error in the sixth inning and scoring, Richards led off the ninth with another single and scored his fourth run of the game.

In Saturday's nightcap, Richards singled home Whitman's first run in the fifth inning, knotting the game at 1-1.

In the eighth inning, with Whitman clinging to a precarious 2-1 lead, Richards rapped a hard ground ball off the Pioneer pitcher for a run-scoring RBI-single. One batter later, freshman Casey Minnick crushed a three-run homer to extend the Missionary lead to 6-1.

Richards at second base and freshman Cam Young at shortstop combined to play error-free defense in the middle infield in all three weekend games. Young also has six hits in the series.

Cam Young
Justin Weeks

Nelson, earning his second victory of the season, surrendered just three hits in tossing all nine innings in Saturday's second game. He struck out five.

Nelson lost his shutout in the third inning on a base on balls, ground-out and two–out single.

Apart from issuing a walk in the fifth and another in the seventh, Nelson retired the Pioneers in order from the fourth through the eighth innings as Whitman rallied from a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 lead.

After Whitman broke open a close game with four runs in the bottom of the eighth, Nelson gave up his third hit of the day in the top of the ninth. The left-hander then induced a game-ending double-play ground ball.

Nelson's gem came on the heels of the complete-game victory tossed by sophomore teammate Justin Weeks in Saturday's opener.

Freshman Aaron Cohen came within one inning of giving Whitman a third straight nine-inning pitching victory in Sunday's game.

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

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