PHOENIX - It wasn't a victory, but Whitman College gave the University of Concordia Texas a good battle before dropping a 4-1 baseball decision Thursday morning at the NCAA Division III Arizona Desert Classic in the Phoenix, Ariz., area.
Improving to 7-1 on the season, the Tornados erased an early 1-0 Whitman lead with three runs in the seventh and eighth innings to pull out the victory.
Whitman failed to capitalize on a strong outing by junior jright-hander Justin Weeks, who surrendered just four hits and one run over six innings.
"Justin pitched extremely well against a very good team," Whitman coach Jared Holowaty said. "He was rolling."
Whitman jumped in front 1-0 in the top of the second inning when sophomore Aaron Cohen crushed a high fastball well beyond the left-center field fence.
"Aaron got it all," Holowaty said. "It was hit and it was gone. Aaron was one of the few guys who hit the ball well today. He also hit a laser in the fourth inning that was caught by their shortstop."
Other than Cohen's bomb, Whitman managed just one other hit -- a sixth-inning single by junior Chris Andrews -- against Tornados starter Scott Weinschenk, who tossed eight innings, and closer Ryan Ullman.
"That was the story of the game, the fact that we as a team didn't make the necessary adjustments at the plate," Holowaty said.
"Their starter is a good pitcher and he threw well. He could be a No. 1 or No. 2 stater in our conference, but we need to do a much better job at the plate than we did."
With Weeks holding his own on the mound, Whitman played "exceptionally well on the defensive side," Holowaty said. "It makes it much easier to play defense when your pitcher is throwing that well."
Weeks retired the first six batters he faced. He gave up a lead-off double in the Concordia third inning, but he got the next three hitters on a comebacker to the mound and to fly balls.
Whitman's lone defensive hiccup came in the bottom of the seventh. With the game tied 1-1, one out and a runner on first base, freshman reliever Spencer Hobson got the next hitter to rap a ground ball to third.
What could have been an inning-ending ground ball skipped into right field, and the next hitter doubled in the tie-breaking run.
"We had better at-bats last weekend in Idaho, but we definitely pitched better and played better defense today," Holowaty said. "But as I told our guys, when you're tied 1-1 late in a game, or even down 3-1, you need to find a way to win. This was a game we could have won today."
Apart from Cohen's homer and the Andrews single, Whitman generated just one other base runner. Sophomore Jimmy Madden drew a base on balls with two outs in the top of the ninth.
Concordia Texas was 32-17 a year ago while winning the American Southwest Conference title. A preseason poll picked the Tornados to finish first again in the ASC's West Division.
Whitman, which opened its season last weekend with four losses at College of Idaho (NAIA), played Whittier College this morning at Boulder High School in Anthem, Ariz.
Concordia-Texas 4, Whitman 1
Whitman 010 000 000 - 1 2 1
Con-Texas 000 100 12X - 4 8 0
Weeks, Hobson (7), Gavin (9). Weinschenk, Ullman (9).
HR - Whit: Cohen. Con-Texas: Janssen.
Hits - Whit: Cohen, Andrews. Con-Texas: Schaekel, Janssen, Burns 3, Kozole, Carter, Guest.