WALLA WALLA - Ahead 4-0 after seven innings in the nightcap of a Northwest Conference baseball twinbill, Whitman College ran afoul of one bad inning and dropped a 5-4 decision to Pacific University Saturday afternoon at Borleske Stadium.
Pacific, which held off a Whitman rally to win Saturday's opener by a 4-3 tally, improved to 11-6 in the NWC and 18-11 overall.
Whitman skidded to 3-14 and 4-24.
Erik Korsmo, one of the few seniors on Whitman's freshman-dominated roster, crushed a three-run home run over the left-field scoreboard in the fifth inning of Saturday's second game, staking the Missionaries to a 4-0 lead.
Jake Nelson, a junior left-hander, blanked the Boxers on three hits over the first seven innings. But after surrendering a lead-off double in the eighth and walking the next hitter, Nelson was lifted for reliever Aaron Cohen.
For Whitman, the inning was mostly downhill from there.
A quick comebacker skipped under Cohen's glove and behind the mound, where shortstop Cam Young grabbed the loose ball and made desperation throw that got past first base, scoring a run and putting runners on second and third.
After the next batter was hit by a pitch, a hard ground ball off Mike Nagamine's bat careened off the third baseman's glove into the outfield, scoring two more runs.
Matt Rasmussen added to Whitman's misery with a bloop single to right that plated another run, tieing the game at 4-4 and sending Nagamine to third base.
When Trux French, Pacific's next hitter, lofted a fly ball to right, Nagamine tagged and headed home, but Korsmo's perfect throw nailed him at the plate with time to spare.
The inning wasn't quite over. A Whitman throwing error, walk and stolen base put Boxers on second and third before Cohen got the final out on a pop fly.
Whitman threatened but came up empty in the bottom of the eighth. Freshman Kyle Buckham singled with one out and took second base on a Pacific throwing error. Sophomore Chris Andrews singled sharply to right, moving Buckham to third.
Pacific made its second pitching change of the game at that point, handing the ball to Nate Rasmussen, who got the next hitter to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Cohen got the first two outs in the ninth before disaster again struck the Missionaries. Travis Koon was hit by a pitch, moved to second base when Kevin Schwartz drew a base on balls and then scored what proved to be the winning run on Logan Moen's single up the middle.
Rasmussen returned to the hill for Pacific in the bottom of the ninth and retired the side in order to nail down the win.
After Korsmo's home run in the fifth, Whitman was unable to capitalize on scoring chances in the sixth and seventh innings that could have broken the game open.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Buckham was hit by a pitch and Andrews walked. After both runners advanced a base on a passed ball, Pacific pulled its infield in and was rewarded when a hard ground ball that went right at second baseman Anson Arakaki, who held the runners and got the second out at first base.
A strike-out then stranded the two runners.
In the bottom of the seventh, Korsmo and freshman Casey Minnick drew one-out walks and advanced a base on a passed ball.
Cohen popped a shallow fly ball into foul territory behind first base. Arakaki made a diving catch for the second out of the inning and then popped to his feet for the throw home. Korsmo, who had tagged up the catch, slid home head first and appeared to beat the tag but was called out on the play.
Whitman tough luck started in the first inning after senior Jay Richards reached on an error and Korsmo walked with two outs. Minnick's liner was picked out of the air by Pacific first baseman Greg Tellez to end the inning.
The Missionaries took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Freshman Jimmy Madden walked and Young singled, setting the table for Minnick's run-scoring double to right. A ground-out left two runners in scoring position.
Madden walked again to lead off the fifth inning. After Richards beat out a bunt single, Young dropped down a sacrifice bunt htat advanced both runners 90 feet. That's when Korsmo launched his third home run of the season high and far over the scoreboard in left.
Korsmo's blast ended the day for Pacific starting pitcher Jason Sawyer. Reliever Dustin Christensen pitched out of the fifth and escaped jams in the sixth and seventh before giving way to Rasmussen in the eighth.
Whitman outhit Pacific 7-6 in game two with seven different players getting one hit apiece. Rasmussen and French had two hits each for the Boxers.
In a battle of sophomore hurlers, Pacific's Rob Dittreck outdueled Whitman's Justin Weeks in Saturday's opener.
With the Boxers ahead 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth and Dittreck still on the mound, Buckham led off with a single and scampered into second when Richards swatted a two-out single into right field.
That ended Dittreck's outing and brought Dan Wolfe in from the bullpen. After a wild pitch moved both runners up a base, Young pounded a ball up the middle, scoring two runs and trimming Whitman's deficit to 4-3.
Korsmo, the next hitter, rapped a ball off the leg of Wolfe, who was able to retrieve the ball in time to get Korsmo at first base for the last out of the game.
Dittreck ran his record to 7-2, scattering nine hits and two walks while striking out eight.
The two teams finishes the three-game weekend series with a single game at noon today at Borleske.
Pacific 101 000 011 - 4 10 1
Whitman 010 000 002 - 3 10 0
Dittrick, Wolfe (9) and Rowland; Weeks, Gavin (9) and Madden.
HR - none.
Hits - Pacific: Fahey 2, Rasmussen 2, French 2, Koon, Schwartz, Moen, Arakaki; Whitman: Richards 3, Young 2, Cohen 2, Pentland, Buckham, Korsmo.
Pacific 000 000 041 - 5 6 1
Whitman 001 030 000 - 4 7 6
Sawyer, Christensen (5), Rassmussen (8) and Clark, Bridges (8), Rowland (9); Nelson, Cohen (8) and Madden.
HR - Whitman: Korsmo.
Hits - Pacific: Rasmussen 2, French 2, Moen, Clark; Whitman: Richards, Young, Korsmo, Minnick, Cohen, Buckham, Andrews..