WALLA WALLA - Adam Roderick rapped a game-tying single in the seventh and Steve Cammuso launched a game-winning three-run homer in the 10th as Eastern Connecticut rallied past Whitman College for an 8-5 baseball victory Sunday afternoon at Borleske Stadium.
The game, which twice was stopped due to flurries of hail and snow, lasted nearly four hours and capped a series that saw the Warriors take four games in three days from the Missionaries.
Despite the sweep, Eastern Connecticut - ranked No. 9 in the NCAA Division III preseason - had its hands full with the upstart Missionaries, whose lack of pitching depth failed to hold the lead on Sunday for a second straight game.
Aaron Cohen, who started on the mound for Whitman, worked himself out of a first-inning jam and the Missionaries jumped in front 4-0 after three innings.
With the home team nursing a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth, Cohen hit one batter and walked another. That prompted the third-year Whitman coach Jared Holowaty to reach into the bullpen for Justin Weeks, who tossed nearly six innings in starting Friday's first game of the series.
After a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, Dan O'Connell knocked an RBI-grounder to second and reached safely when the throw sailed wide of first base. Joe Balowski then tied the game at 4-4 with a run-scoring single through the right side.
The next hitter grounded to Whitman third baseman Chris Konolige, who dove to tag Mitch Plourde as he scrambled back to the bag. The nearest of two field umpires, who appeared to have a poor angle, gave Plourde the safe sign, handing the Warriors a one-out bases-loaded situation.
But Holowaty, who matched wits throughout the series with his father, long-time Eastern Connecticut coach Bill Holowaty, protested the ruling and persuaded the three-man umpiring crew to huddle. At least one of the other two umpires saw the play differently - and the call was reversed.
Weeks then got the inning's final out on an infield pop, keeping the game knotted at 4-4.
Whitman regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Chris Andrews drew a base on balls, advanced to second on a balk and scored when Peter Valentine drove a double off the left-field wall.
Eastern Connecticut made it a 5-5 game with a run in the top of the seventh. Kyle Hart walked, moved to second on Plourde's single through the right side and scored when Roderick grounded a single up the middle.
The Warriors threatened to take the lead in the top of the ninth when Steve Bizzaro led off with a double and quickly took third on a wild pitch. But freshman lefty Spencer Hobson, in his third inning of relief, fanned the next hitter.
With one out and Plourde at the plate, Bizzaro broke for home on a suicide squeeze play as Hobson delivered to the plate. Plourde was unable to get his bat on a pitch that tailed high and away, forcing Bizzaro to hit the brakes 20 feet from home. Whitman catcher Jimmy Madden ran him down for the tag and a huge second out. Plourde then popped out to end the inning.
Drew Accomando, the day's fourth Warriors pitcher, took over in the bottom of the ninth and got three quick outs.
With one out in the top of the 10th, O'Connell reached on an infield error and took second base when Balowski singled through the right side. Following a pitching change, Cammuso lifted his first hit of the day over the left-field wall for a three-run home run.
Madden and Konolige, two of the first three batters Accomando faced in the bottom of the 10th, drew walks to give Whitman hope. A balk moved both runners into scoring position, but Accomando retired the next two hitters on a ground ball to third and fly ball to center, sealing the victory.
Whitman used a bit of trickery to steal the game's first run in the bottom of the first. After Cam Young drilled a two-out triple into the right-center field gap, Cohen drew a base on balls.
With two strikes on the next hitter, Cohen broke for second base on a delayed steal. When the pitcher threw to second, Young stretched his lead at third as the Warriors shortstop chased Cohen back toward first. Young finally broke for home, sliding safely across the plate as the throw was wide and high.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Whitman generated a three-run outburst, stretching its lead to 4-0.
Valentine got the ball rolling when he sliced a single to left and scooted into second when the ball skipped away from the fielder. He continued to third on a wild pitch and scored when Cohen's fly ball to shallow right field was dropped.
Back-to-back walks by Madden and Kyle Moyes forced home another run. When a pitch in the dirt to the next hitter bounced a short distance away from the catcher, Cohen broke from third and slid head-first under the tag in a close play at the dish.
Eastern Connecticut trimmed its deficit to 4-1 after Brendan Lynch walked to lead off the fourth. With two outs, Lynch raced around to third base when an errant pickoff throw took flight into foul territory. Lynch then scored when Plourde chopped an infield single over the pitcher's head.
On a day when skin-numbing cold and snow-covered ground made fielding difficult (along with pitching, hitting and all other athletic endeavors), Young choked off a second run from his shortstop position, diving to his left to snag Roderick's line-shot one-hopper up the middle.
Plourde, already on second base following a wild pitch, took off with the crack of the bat and was destined for home on the play. But Young popped to his feet and made a quick throw that first baseman Eli Mathieu picked out of the dirt, ending the inning.
The Warriors inched closer with a second unearned run in the fifth. With one out and two runners aboard (via walks), and flurries of hail and snow intensifying, T.J. Larivee's sacrifice bunt moved his teammates forward a base.
After Lynch's one-hop liner squirted away from the second baseman, allowing the run score, umpires halted play for a delay that lasted about 30 minutes. The game was stopped for a second time, again for about 30 minutes, with Whitman batting in the bottom of the sixth.
Eastern Connecticut, which opened its season this weekend with four victories at Borleske, collected 10 hits on Sunday, getting three from Balowski and two more Plourde. Whitman managed just five hits, two by Valentine, but also worked the Warriors pitching staff for 11 walks. Madden walked three times in five trips to the plate while Cohen and Moyes picked up two free passes apiece.
Now 0-12 in non-conference games, Whitman has already suffered through two one-run losses and three three-run setbacks.
The Missionaries return to Borleske Stadium next weekend to open the Northwest Conference season with a three-game series against Puget Sound. A Saturday twinbill starts at 11 a.m. with the finale set noon on Sunday.
ECU 8, Whitman 5
ECU 000 112 100 3 - 8 10 2
WHITMAN 103 001 000 0 - 5 5 7
Hepple, Darby (4), Pendergast (6), Accomando (9) and Roderick, Cammuso. Cohen, Weeks (6), Hobson (7), Matherly (10), Nelson (10) and Madden.
HR - ECU - Cammuso.
Hits - ECU: Roderick, O'Connell, Balowski 3, Cammuso, Lynch, Bizzaro, Plourde 2. Whit: Valentine 2, Young, Mathieu, Andrews.