Whitman Weekend Baseball: Five Seniors
Playing Final Home Games at Borleske

News Release Date:
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Five Whitman College seniors will play the final home games of their baseball careers when the Missionaries host Willamette for a three-game series this Saturday and Sunday at Borleske Stadium.

Two games are set for Saturday, starting at noon, with a third game to follow at noon Sunday.

Seniors Brian Kitamura, Jason Sease, Joe Rodhouse, Mitch Hannoosh and Blaine Mercado will be recognized during brief ceremonies before Sunday's first pitch.

Whitman, 3-15 in the NWC this spring while playing with a limited roster, turned in a good effort in last weekend's three-game series against Pacific in Forest Grove, Ore. The Missionaries dropped all three games, but two of those setbacks came by the same slim 7-4 margin.

Willamette, 6-9 in the NWC, also came up short in a three-game series last weekend, although those losses came at the hands of a non-conference foe, Lewis-Clark State. The Bearcats then played another non-conference team on Tuesday, outscoring Corbin 15-13.

Here's a closer look at Whitman's five baseball seniors:

Brian Kitamura

Despite a ankle injury suffered early this season, Kitamura had settled into the lead-off spot in the Missionary batting order when he was hit with a season-ending knee injury in late March. He was leading the NWC in walks at the time and was on pace to break the school record for most walks in a single season.

      Brian Kitamura

Kitamura's value at the top of the order was showcased in Whitman's mid-March doubleheader sweep at Lewis & Clark. With three hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch, he reached base in seven of his 10 plate appearances while scoring three runs and knocking in two more. In his last game before the knee injur, Kitamura was two for three at the plate with a run scored and his 20th walk of the season.

A year ago as a junior, Kitamura led Whitman in runs scored while hitting .285 with a .390 on-base percentage. He also hit his first college home run against Occidental, where his cousin Jacob Lee plays.

Primarily an outfielder, Kitamura commited just one error as a junior after having played error-free defense as a sophomore. He also made a few relief appearances on the mound that season, collecting his first college save in a victory over Simpson.

How much does Kitamura like baseball? "My favorite baseball memory at Whitman," he says, "was stepping out onto the field as a freshman and getting to play collegiate baseball for the first time."

A psychology major at Whitman, Kitamura is writing his senior thesis on "The Effect of Participation in Varsity Athletics on College Life." He plans to stay in Walla Walla next year as an assistant coach while he ponders the possibility of pursuing a coaching career.

A graduate of Mercer Island (Wash.) High School, Kitamura is the son of Les and Linna Kitamura.

Jason Sease

Primarily an outfielder, Sease is hitting .272 this season with four doubles and a triple. He is second on the team in RBI. The right-hander has also taken his turn on the mound, making 10 appearances with three starts.

       Jason Sease

A year ago as a junior, Sease hit .313 in 34 games with a .385 on-base percentage. That boosted his career batting average at Whitman to .296. He also made eight pitching appearances, including two starts.

Sease's favorite baseball memory at Whitman came during his sophomore season, when he clubbed his first college home. That round-tripper, a seventh-inning solo shot over left-field fence at Borleske, spoiled Linfielder pitcher Garrett Dorn's bid for a no-hitter. He also made 10 relief appearances that spring.

As a freshman, Sease hit .440 in limited plate appearances (11 for 25) and pitched in seven games.

An Asian Studies major at Whitman, Sease has produced a number of sports videos at Whitman. After graduating, he hopes to work in video productions for Fox Sports Network or ESPN.

The son of Edward and Cheryl Sease and a graduate of Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, Wash., Sease wrote his senior thesis on "Japanese Baseball: The Creation of a Philosophy."

His thesis is a content analysis study on Japanese newspaper articles and the philosophy of "wa," a Japanese term that means peace and harmony, but is also used to describe a philosophy of baseball in Japan that separates winners from losers."

Blaine Mercado

A graduate of Walla Walla High School, Mercado played his first two seasons at Walla Walla Community College before coming to Whitman. 

      Blaine Mercado

Mercado, who pitches and plays third base, made an immediate impact as a Missionary junior, making nine starts on the mound and tossing three complete games. He was the hard-luck loser against NWC co-champion George Fox, holding the Bruins to three earned earns over eight innings, but he pitched three and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief to get the victory over Occidental.

He also had his moments at the plate as a junior, whacking a double and his first Whitman home run, a three-run shot, in a victory over Lewis & Clark. He hit .284 on the season and led the Missionaries in doubles.

His best Whitman pitching performance to date came earlier this season in a 2-1 Sunday afternoon victory at Borleske. One day after Puget Sound scored 29 runs in a doubleheader sweep of the Missionaries, Mercado shut down the Loggers with a three-hit, nine-inning gem. He held the opposition hitless through six innings and scoreless through eight. 

Mercado, who picked a runner off first base in the ninth inning to help preserve the win, also knocked in Whitman's first run. He leads the team in RBI this season.

An English major at Whitman, Mercado is the son of Angie and Carl Mercado. 

Joe Rodhouse

In addition to clubbing two home runs this season, Rodhouse has anchored Whitman's infield at first base, committing not a single error while handling 256 chances. His ninth-inning clutch throw to second base helped save Whitman's 2-1 victory over Puget Sound.

       Joe Rodhouse

Before chronic arm trouble settled in, Rodhouse was a starting pitcher in his first two seasons at Whitman. He made a brief return to the mound this spring, making two relief appearances to help ease the burden on a short-handed Missionary pitching staff.

As a sophomore, Rodhouse made eight starts on the hill, one of which was a nine-inning complete victory over Whitworth on the final weekend of the season. He also tossed seven strong innings in a no-decision against Linfield, giving up just one earned run on five hits.

As a freshman, Rodhouse notched his first pitching victory with three innings of relief against Puget Sound. He also hit .363 in limited plate appearances in his rookie season.

Rodhouse, a graduate of O'Connor High School in Phoenix, Ariz., is the son of Laura Munson and Tom Rodhouse. He is majoring in sociology at Whitman. 

Mitch Hannoosh

Hannoosh, an outfielder, produced one of this season's more memorable moments in the one-run win victory Puget Sound.

      Mitch Hannoosh

With Whitman leading 1-0 in the seventh inning, he was at the plate with runners on first and third when head coach Jared Holowaty called for a suicide squeeze. With Rodhouse racing home on the play, Hannoosh reached for a pitch in his eyes to push a sacrifice bunt down the first-base likne, scoring what proved to be the winning run in the 2-1 triumph.

Hannoosh also collected two RBI without a hit in Whitman's 7-5 victory over Lewis & Clark this season. He knocked in one run with a ground-out and forced home another when he took one for the team (hit by pitch) with the bases loaded.

Like Rodhouse, Hannoosh did not play as a junior, but his sophomore season included his only trips to the pitching mound. He made three effective relief appearances that season, recording a 1.93 ERA. 

Hannoosh played in 13 games as a freshman, hitting .389 with eight runs scored. 

A history major at Whitman, Hannoosh made his oral exam presentation on a comparison of 1960s student activism in China, France and the U.S. He plans to attend law school within the next few years.

A graduate of Pentucket High School in West Newbury, Mass., Hannoosh is the son of Greg and Diana Hannoosh. His father played baseball for Saint Michael's College, an NCAA Division III school in Vermont.

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