WALLA WALLA — Whitman College rebounded from a rough start to their Northwest Conference series with Whitworth on Saturday by shutting out the Pirates, 9-0, on Senior Day Sunday at Borleske Stadium.
The victory not only drew the Missionaries even with the Pirates for seventh place in the conference at 8-16, but also put their overall win total at 15 — the highest total for the program since it fully entered Division III in 1998.
The Whits went 14-25 in 2000.
“It’s definitely a nice milestone to hit,” said Whitman coach Sean Kinney. “It’s good to see our guys getting after it every day. It’s not just showing up on the weekends and coming out to play. It takes the whole week to do it. To get to 15 (wins) is a big moment, but now we want to take the program to the next level.”
Missionaries starting pitcher Justin Weeks tossed eight innings of shutout baseball in his last game at Borleske Stadium to get the win on an exceptional day for both the Missionary offense and defense.
In the bottom of the second, Cam Young hit a single to begin what would prove to be a six-run inning for Whitman. After a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Moyes that moved Young into scoring position, the Missionaries rattled off six consecutive hits to push the lead to 5-0.
A sacrifice fly from Aaron Cohen pushed in the final run of the inning.
The Missionaries continued the offensive barrage in the fifth, when Chris Andrews hit a single between the shortstop and third basemen to knock in Casey Minnick. Shortly after, Andrews crossed home thanks to another hard hit ball by Kyle Buckham to increase the lead to 8-0.
In the seventh, Jimmy Madden doubled to centerfield, and soon became another insurance run when Andrews hit another single to leftfield that pushed the score to 9-0.
Whitworth’s starter, Carson Blumenthal lasted only three innings before the Pirates finally moved to the bullpen in the bottom of the fourth.
The Pirate bullpen did not fare much better than Blumenthal in giving up nine hits between three different pitchers over the last six innings of play.
In a day that saw every starting Missionary get a hit, the game belonged to the standout performances of Whitman’s three seniors. Andrews lead the team with three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base while also playing a perfect second base that included three putouts and five assists.
After Weeks ended with a three-up, three-down eighth inning, he was met by his teammates outside the dugout with a line of high-five’s, congratulating the senior before he left the field for the last time. Weeks scattered five hits throughout eight innings of pitching while striking out three and only walking one.
The last senior, Tyler Grisdale came in to relieve Weeks and shut the door on the Pirates in the top of the ninth to complete the shutout and give the Missionaries their 15th win of the season.
“They’re such great kids,” Kinney said of his seniors. “They’re graduating soon and they are young men now, moving onto the next stage of their life. They’re the kind of people you want to root for, so when good things happen for them, it makes you feel just that much better.”
The win puts Whitman at 15-21 (8-16 NWC), while the loss drops Whitworth to 13-23-1 (8-16 NWC).
The Missionaries finish up their record-setting season Saturday when they travel to Tacoma to play Puget Sound at 10 a.m., followed by a game with Pacific University, also at Puget Sound, starting at 1:30 p.m.
Whitman 9, Whitworth 0
Whitworth 000 000 000 — 0 5 1
Whitman 060 020 10x — 9 17 0
Blumenthal, Isadore (4), Ansett (6), Renner (8) and Davis. Weeks, Grisdale (9) and Harned.
HR — none.
Hits — Whitworth: Jordan, Jewett 2, Wakem, Nikssarian. Whitman: Buckham 3, Braff 2, Cohen, Young 2, Konolige, Moyes, Minnick, Harned, Madden 2, Andrews 3.