Bearcats Turn Back Whit Baseball Rally

News Release Date:
Sunday, April 18

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Willamette jumped to an early five-run lead and then turned back a Whitman College rally in the final innings to post a 6-4 Northwest Conference baseball victory Sunday afternoon at Borleske Stadium.

The Bearcats, now 8-10 in the NWC, stretched their lead to 6-1 with a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning.

Willamette 6,
Whitman 4

Box Score

With two outs and a runner of first base, Sky Kelley lofted a fly that was caught in right field for what appeared to be the third out. But a catcher's interference ruling on the swing awarded first base to Kelley, and Max Stepan followed with a two-run double down the left-field line.

Blaine Mercado

Whitman, which saw its conference record slip to 4-17, climbed back into the game with a three-run seventh inning. 

Consecutive one-out singles by senior Mitch Hannoosh and juniors Patrick Stauffer and Jay Richards produced the first run. Sophomore Erik Tolleson singled to load the bases for junior Eric Korsmo, who drew a walk to force home another run.

Following a pitching change -- Blake Paisley relieved starter Chris Torgerson, senior Blake Mercado was hit by a pitch to score a third  Missionary run, trimming Willamette's lead to 6-4.

Eric Tolleson

The Bearcats escaped the jam when Whitman's next hitter, senior Jason Sease, smoked a line-shot on one hop to shortstop Doug Bloom, who started the rally-killing 6-4-3 doubleplay.

Whitman twice brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Stauffer, leading off the inning, was hit by a pitch, but Richards ripped a hard ground ball to third base that Willamette's Tim Schilf scooped and fired to second base for the start of an around-the-horn doubleplay. 

With two outs, Tolleson reached on an infield single, but Paisley got the final out when Korso tattooed another hard ground ball to shortstop.

Torgerson, who got his fifth pitching victory of the season, gave up seven hits and four earned runs while walking five and striking out three. Paisley, who took over with one out in the seventh, hit two batters but gave up just one single while closing out the game for his first save of the season.

Mercado was the hard-luck loser for Whitman. He scattered eight hits over nine innings, giving up four earned runs, while fanning six and walking three. 

Patrick Stauffer
Jay Richards

Stepan sparked the Bearcats at the plate with two doubles and a triple. T.C. Lee added two hits, one of them a double, and knocked in two runs. 

Mitchell Rowan clocked his 10th home run of the season, a solo shot that triggered a three-run Willamette fourth inning.

Stauffer, Richards and Tolleson, the first three hitters in the Whitman line-up, finished with two hits each. Tolleson also walked three times. 

Willamette returns home next weekend to host Whitworth in a three-game NWC series against Whitworth.

Whitman heads to Atherton, Calif., next weekend to battle Menlo in a four-game non-conference series.

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