KERRVILLE, Texas — Whitman packed a season’s worth of late-inning drama into the three-state, 11-game, 17-day walkabout that opened its 2014 baseball campaign.
Except for the capper, where the Missionaries left no doubt.
After a 14-5 victory in the first game against Schreiner University Monday, Whitman blasted its hosts 19-6 to complete the sweep.
The Missionaries (8-3) had 19 hits in Game 2, assembling their highest scoring output of the year. They are averaging 10.3 runs per game.
The sweep Monday gives Whitman wins in four of its last five games, with three of those victories coming in instances where the Missionaries trailed in the seventh inning or later.
The latest escape came in the seven-inning opener on Monday, after Schreiner scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to claim a 5-3 lead.
But Whitman erupted for 11 runs in the top of the seventh.
“We’re finding out a lot about ourselves, about how resilient we can be,” Whitman head coach Sean Kinney said. “We need to do a better job in the early innings, whether it’s taking care of the baseball or having more consistent approaches at the plate. Hopefully we can avoid putting ourselves in those situations too often.
“But its encouraging to see our guys respond with their backs against the wall,” he added. “It definitely gives you a lot of confidence heading into conference.”
MacLean Harned was 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead Whitman.
The Missionaries had 13 hits and stole eight bases in the comeback.
The second game also featured a Whitman rally, only this time it came much earlier.
Schreiner eked out a 4-1 lead before the Missionaries struck for seven runs in the top of the fourth. The key thunderclap was Peter Carmichael’s two-run, bases-loaded double.
“He puts in work every single day,” Kinney said of Carmichael, who was pinch-hitting. “It was good to see him come up big.
“From there, we were able to continue to add runs late.”
The Mountaineers trimmed Whitman’s lead to 8-6 in the fifth, but the Missionaries scored three runs apiece in the sixth, seventh and eighth, adding a two-spot in the top of the ninth for good measure.
“There’s no clock in baseball. You have to get those outs, you have to put the ball over the dish,” said Kinney. “It’s a beautiful game that way, and it was nice to be able to stress the importance of adding runs late.”
Young led the Whitman plate barrage, going 4 for 6 with a double, triple, six RBIs and two runs scored.
Sterling Spilinek scattered six hits over five solid innings to book the win on the mound. He had seven strikeouts.
Dakota Matherly pitched three scoreless innings of middle relief, and Nick Johnson recorded the final three outs.
Will Thompson allowed just one earned run over 5 2/3 innings and struck out nine, but settled for a no-decision in the first game. Robert Maislin pitched the final 1 1/3 to earn the win.
“Our pitchers battled over this whole trip,” Kinney said.
Whitman begins Northwest Conference play against Puget Sound on March 1 at Borleske Stadium.
Whitman 000 210 11 — 14 13 3
Schreiner 000 023 0 — 5 7 5
Thompson, Maislin (6) and Harned. Barnett, Catalani (5), Stewart (7), Robledo (7) and Valdez.
HR — none.
Hits — Whit: Buckham 2, Madden 2, Young, Cohen 2, Braff, Moyes, Chow, Harned 3. Sch: Pisseri 2, Byley, Valdez, Martin, Holmes, Rundzieher.
Whitman 001 703 332 — 19 19 1
Schreiner 004 020 000 — 6 9 4
Spillinek, Matherly (6), Johnson (9) and .Lari, Carmichael, DeStefano. Ray, Mendenhall (4), Paris (4), Woods (7), Byley (8), Garcia (9), Barbosa (9) and Martinez.
HR — none.
Hits — Whit: Buckham 2, Madden 3, Young 4, Cohen, Braff, Konolige 2, Chow 2, Carmichael, DeStefano, Heywood 2. Sch: Pisseri, Laurin, Valdez 3, Holmes, Reed, Martinez, Rundzieher.