WALLA WALLA - Whitman played catch up here Saturday in the opener of a Northwest Conference baseball twin bill with Lewis and Clark College, but the Missionaries couldn't get over the hump and the Pioneers emerged with a 4-3 win.
The second game succumbed to the rain with Lewis and Clark up 4-2 after four.
"We had opportunities offensively," Missionary coach Jared Holowaty said. "The difference in the game was we didn't execute defensively. They made the plays when they had to. All their runs were earned, but when you make mistakes, it puts more pressure on your defense."
Parker Dane's one-out single in the first started a two-run first inning for the Pioneers. Whitman's outfield got a bad jump on Michael Ball's blast that went for a double. Nick Lavin singled in Dane, and a Whitman error allowed Ball to scoot home with the second Pioneer run.
Whitman answered as Peter Valentine laced a triple and scored on Cameron Young's sac fly to center.
A Eric Hyun double, a wild pitch, and a single from Dane gave the Pioneers a 3-1 lead after two.
Jonny Chow legged out a two-out infield single in the Whitman third. Chow stole second and scored on Valentine's single to narrow the gap to 3-2 after three.
Dane and Ball singled with two outs in the Pioneer fourth. Nick Lavin looped one into short left field and Dane scored.
MacLean Harned was hit by Lewis and Clark pitcher Ball to open the Whitman fifth. Chris Andrews attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Ball gunned Harned out at second. With two outs, Valentine hit a sinking line drive to center that dropped for a single but got by the center fielder and Andrews scored from first. Whitman trailed 4-3 after five.
The Missionaries missed getting even by less than a foot as Valentine led off the Missionary eighth and blasted an opposite field shot to left that hit the top of the fence and Valentine settled for a double.
Valentine's double culminated his four for four performance at the plate.
"He (Valentine) just missed a home run off the top of the fence," Holowaty said. "He's a good ball player. He's going through the ups and downs of his first college baseball season. Our plan is to have him do that (go four for four). That's why we got him here."
With the tying run at second, Young hit a smash to the mound, and Ball caught Valentine in no man's land off second. The ensuing run-down let Young advance to second, but Valentine was put out.
With Young attempting to steal third, Aaron Cohen lifted a fly to center, and Young was doubled off second. End of Whitman threat.
"In the eighth, we had a lead off man on second," Holowaty recounted. "Made a base running mistake, but replaced him with another runner. Then we didn't pick up the ball on a stolen base. We can't give outs away."
Ball completed his complete game six hitter with a one-two-three ninth and Lewis and Clark improved to 3-10 in NWC play.
Justin Weeks went eight innings for Whitman and blanked the Pioneers over his last four innings.
"Justin did a good job settling in," Holowaty said. "To get eight innings out of him was phenomenal."
A Chow triple and a RBI ground out from Valentine gave Whitman a 2-1 lead after three in the night cap.
Ball's triple and a Missionary error led to three Pioneer runs in the LC fourth, and Whitman couldn't close the gap as the game was suspended after four.
"These (Whitman and Lewis and Clark) are two good young, energetic teams," Holowaty concluded. "When you get two teams like this playing well, it's fun to watch."
Action begins today at noon at Borleske with the Pioneers batting in the top of the fifth. Game three of the week end series will follow.
Lewis and Clark 4, Whitman 3
Lewis and Clark 210 100 000 - 4 13 2
Whitman 101 010 000 - 3 6 1
Ball and Kinkenon; Weeks, Hobson (9) and Harned .
HR - none.
Hits - LC: Dane 3, Ball 3, Lavin 3, Hyun 2, Kinkenon 2; Whit: Valentine 4, Chow, Cohen.