WALLA WALLA, Wash. - The Whitman College baseball team split a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Saturday, falling 9-7 in the opener before riding a stellar outing from pitcher Eric Ma for a 4-2 win in the nightcap.
The twinbill opener saw Whitman (10-13, 5-6 NWC) twice rally but never able to get over the hump. Kyle Reisman delivered a monster performance, batting 4-5 with one run and two RBI. Brett Williams, Matthew Sox and Alex Behrman all recorded two hits with Behrman adding one run and one RBI.
Both starters were the pitchers of the record. Travis Craven (1-4) worked into the fifth inning and was lifted for Collin Anderson but not before giving up a two-run homer to Connor Bailey (2 H, 2 R, 2 RBI) to put the Bearcats (11-9, 8-6 NWC) up 5-0. Officially, Craven tossed four innings while giving up five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts. Bearcat starter Matt Steindorf (5-1) allowed three earned runs in seven innings of work for the win.
Willamette jumped on Craven early with a run in the second and Sean Little's two-run homer in the third. The damage could have been worse but, with the two runs already on the board, Craven forced Ethan Fischel (1 H, 1 R, 1 RBI) to ground into an inning-ending, bases loaded double play to end the threat.
Whitman manufactured a run in the third but Bailey's two-run shot forced Craven out of the game and put the Bearcats up 6-1 through five innings.
The Whitman bats would come alive in the middle innings as the Blues plated a pair in each of the next three innings. Matthew Sox (2 H, 1 RBI) delivered an RBI hit and scored a run in the sixth, then Reisman drove in two runs in the seventh to put the Blues within one run at 6-5.
The momentum slowed just one-half inning later. With Tristan Kalnins on the hill for Whitman, Tyler Kurata (2H, 2 R, 1 RBI) delivered a two-RBI hit to cap a three run inning and give the Bearcat staff all the run support it would need.
The nightcap saw Eric Ma pitch a gem to improve to 4-0 on the season and earn a split for the Blues. He tossed seven complete innings, allowing no runs on just four hits with six strikeouts. It took until the fourth inning before Ma would give up his first hit, issuing just two walks while breezing through the first three innings.
Meanwhile, the Blues were giving Ma some early run support. RBI singles from both Anthony Nevoso (2 H, 2 R, 1 RBI) and Brett Williams (2 H, 2 RBI) gave their team a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Williams helped push the lead to three runs two innings later, laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt to score Nevoso. In the fifth, Whitman added its fourth run after David Johnson (2 H, 1 R) doubled then later scored on a wild pitch to hand Ma a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Ma would run into trouble in the final two innings of his outing but came out uscathed. The seventh inning saw Ma issue a walk to put runners on first and second with one out. But on the next at bat, Ma forced a grounder to the left side of the infield and Williams and Sox turned a textbook 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Mincin came on to work the final two innings and hold on for the win. Jake Wishart had a stellar game of his own at the plate with three hits and one run scored.
Bearcat starter Brandon Nelson (1-5) was tagged with the loss, allowing four runs on 10 hits in five innings.
Whitman and Willamette conclude their Northwest Conference series Sunday with a single game set for 12:00 p.m.