WALLA WALLA - For Whitman College baseball, the wins have been few and far between.
In fact, a full month and four days have passed since the Missionaries last registered a W.
It looked like the losing streak would hit 15 as visiting Willamette held a 9-6 lead entering the last of the ninth in the second game of the doubleheader. But a parade of hits off Bearcat reliever Parker Johnson proved Whitman's skid's undoing. The Missionaries earned the improbable Northwest Conference split at Borleske Stadium here Saturday with a 10-9 thriller after a 13-3 first game loss.
Game one was over early. Willamette scored 10 runs off starter Eric Tolleson through five innings. Tolleson was pulled for Jason Sease, who gave up three runs in four innings of relief work.
Whitman's offense struck for a scant six hits, only one of which wasn't a grounder through the right side of the infield. The Missionaries managed just one hit after the third and fourth innings, the stanzas in which Whitman scored its three runs.
"It was tough," Whitman coach Jared Holowaty said. "Strictly by not making routine plays and catching the ball early on, we got down 3-0. We can't do what we do, when we get down early.
"Eric Tolleson did a good job battling. Jason Sease did a great job coming in," Holowaty said. "But we couldn't get that momentum going early. I thought we swung the bats well early. It just didn't always pan out."
Game two was different.
Though Whitman again gave up an early lead with three Willamette runs in the top of the first, the Missionaries responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame and another solo marker in the second.
Missionary starting pitcher Erik Korsmo allowed no runs and two hits over the next three-and-two-thirds innings, until Willamette nicked him for five two-out hits in the fifth.
Whitman rallied in the bottom of the fifth to narrow the score to 7-6 the small-ball way with three runs off three singles, two walks and a hit-batsman.
John Nortz nailed down three more scoreless innings in relief before slowing down in the Bearcat ninth. Willamette's T.C. Lee led off with a triple that hit the top rail of the right field fence.
Michael Oliver then scored Lee on a single. Oliver crossed home two batters later on a sacrifice fly to left, upping the lead to 9-6.
Missionary Joe Rodhouse led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to right center. Justin Weeks followed up with the game's only homer, a bomb over the left field's 359-foot sign.
After a Hannoosh line out, Patrick Stauffer singled and Jay Richards doubled. Eric Tolleson plated Stauffer with a single to left to tie up the game 9-9. Johnson intentionally walked Erik Korsmo to set up the double play and bring Blaine Mercado to the plate.
Mercado singled to left over a drawn in outfield and the Missionaries again tasted the thrill of victory.
"That was fun," said Holowaty. "It's a testament to our guys that, even when we're down big, we still get good at bats. We got into their bullpen like we wanted to. We got the pitches we wanted and we did something.
"John Nortz did a great job keeping us in this game," he continued. "My hat's off to him, coming in as a freshman and being thrown into the fire (in the fifth) and getting a quick out."
Richards tallied four hits on the game. Weeks finished with two doubles and the two-run homer.
The 4-27 Missionaries play their final home game of the season today against Willamette at Borleske at noon.
Willamette 111 522 010 - 13 15 1
Whitman 001 200 000 - 3 6 2
Grindy, Wyman (9) and Stepan; Tolleson, Sease (6) and Korsmo, Weeks (7).
HR - none.
Hits - Willamette: Giza 2, Bloom, Collins 2, Kelley 4, Stepan 2, Lee, Oliver 2, Kass; Whitman: Stauffer, Tolleson, Korsmo, Sease, Rodhouse, Hannoosh.
Willamette 300 040 002 - 9 16 1
Whitman 210 030 004 - 10 16 1
Jones, DeLasantos (5), Simon (5), Johnson (9) and Summers; Korsmo, Nortz (5) and Weeks.
HR - Whitman: Weeks.
Hits - Willamette: Giza, Bloom 2, Rowan 2, Collins, Kelley 2, Summers 2, Lee 2, Oliver 3, Kass; Whitman: Stauffer, Richards 4, Tolleson 2, Mercado 2, Sease 2, Rodhouse 2, Weeks 3.