CHANDLER, Ariz. - Down 4-0 after four innings, Whitman College rallied in the middle frames but fell a run short at the end in a 5-4 loss to Sul Ross State here Sunday at the Arizona Desert Classic.
Whitman kicked off its rally in the bottom of the fifth when sophomore Chris Konolige singled ahead of a home run to left field off the bat of freshman Eli Mathieu, the first round-tripper of his young college career.
The Missionaries narrowed the gap to 4-3 with a run in the sixth. Sophomore Cam Young singled with one out, moved around to third base on a wild pitch and ground out, and scored when sophomore Jimmy Madden singled to center.
Konolige kept the inning alive with a single through the left side, sending Madden to second base, but an infield fly ball stranded both runners.
Sul Ross extended its lead to 5-3 with a run in the top of the seventh. A hit batsman, fielder's choice and stolen base set the table for what proved to be Dakota Dill's game-winning RBI single.
The Missionaries left two more runners on base in the bottom of seventh.
Sophomore Kyle Moyes led off with a single to center, ending the afternoon for Sul Ross starting pitcher Luke Fry. Two outs later, sophomore Chris Andrews singled Moyes to second, but reliever Lucas Garza got the third out on a ground ball.
Whitman missed another scoring opportunity in the eighth. After Madden and Mathieu singled, Moyes was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. A fly ball to right field left the sacks full.
Whitman continued to scrap in the bottom of the ninth, pushing across a run to make it 5-4 and putting the tying run on base.
Sophomore Kyle Buckham led off the Missionary ninth with a double to right-center field. After reaching base on a walk, Andrews was erased in a fielder's choice at second, but the Sul Ross second baseman also committed an error on the play, allowing Buckham to score.
Garza then snuffed out Whitman's final hopes with a strikeout and fly ball to right field.
Sophomore Aaron Cohen started on the mound for Whitman and went six and two-thirds innings, striking out eight while not walking a single batter. He gave up 10 hits and four earned runs.
A double and single gave Sul Ross its first run in the first inning. A Missionary infield error helped the Lobos add a run in the third.
Sul Ross tacked on a pair of critical two-out runs in the fourth. A single and sacrifice bunt, followed by an RBI single to left, accounted for the first of those runs. Chris Rubio then tripled down the right-field line to give the Lobos a 4-0 cushion.
Both teams finished with 11 hits. Young, Madden, Konolige and Mathieu led the way for Whitman with two hits each.
Three Whitman relievers finished up for the Missionaries. After freshman Spencer Hobson got the final out of the seventh, sophomores Tristan Gavin and Brett Lambert both tossed an inning of scoreless relief.
The loss was Whitman's second one-run setback in four games in Arizona.
The young Whitman squad, now 0-8 to start the season, plays its first home games next weekend when Eastern Connecticut comes to Borleske Stadium for a four-game series.
The first game starts at 1 p.m. Friday with two games set for Saturday and a final game on Sunday.
Bill Holowaty, now in its 43rd season as Eastern Connecticut's coach, is the father of third-year Whitman coach Jared Holowaty.
Sul Ross State 5, Whitman 4
Sun Ross State 101 200 100 - 5 11 2
Whitman 000 021 001 - 4 11 2
Fry, Garza (7) and Jones; Cohen, Hobson (7), Gavin (8), Lambert (9) and Madden.
HR - Whitman, Mathieu.
Hits - Sul Ross State: Hopson, Vasquez, Dill 3, Mata, Silcox, Ballez 2, Rubio 2; Whitman: Buckham, Andrews, Young 2, Madden 2, Konolige, 2, Mathieu 2, Moyes.