ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University fell 5-2 to Whitman College earlier this evening in game four of the best-of-five NCAA Division III Baseball Regional. The Panthers and the Blues are now tied up 2-2 in the series, forcing a winner-take-all game tomorrow afternoon.
With Chapman as the visiting team for game two, sophomore Cole Fleming started on the mound in the bottom of the first, throwing three scoreless innings while allowing just three hits. Junior Austin Merrill took over in the fourth, allowing one walk before getting three consecutive outs to send freshman Drew Littwin up to the plate in the top of the fifth.
After a groundout from Littwin, junior Aaron Wong singled up the middle to bring the top of the lineup back up. Senior Alex Tsuruda doubled down the left field line, scoring Wong and giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the fifth. A couple of fly outs to center field ended the inning, brining Merrill back up on the mound.
With runners on first and third and no outs, Merrill got out of the inning on a foul out to first base followed by 4-6-3 groundout double play.
Chapman added one more run to its lead in the top of the sixth when Littwin singled to left field with runners on second and third. Junior Kevin Gregersen rounded home plate to put the Panthers up 2-0 with three innings left to play.
The Blues answered immediately, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. Junior Anthony Nevoso knocked in one run on a single, followed by single from freshman Jerick Nomura to tie the game. With bases loaded and two outs, junior Kyle Reisman singled up the middle, driving two more runs in give Whitman a two-run lead. Sophomore Cody Turner ended the inning by forcing a fly ball to center field.
The Blue added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when senior Jake Wishart hit a sacrifice bunt to score the runner on third. Chapman held Whitman scoreless through the ninth but could not rally to score any more runs after the sixth.
Junior Mitchell Briggs made his pitching debut for the Panthers in the seventh, striking out two batters while allowing one run in one and a third innings pitched. Sophomore pitcher Eric Ma earned his ninth win of the season, pitching a complete game with two strikeouts and one earned run.
The Panthers and the Blues left a combined 26 runners left on base.
Chapman and Whitman face off tomorrow afternoon at 12 p.m. in the winner-take-all final of the regional round.
by Katie Bell
Sports Information Assistant