ORANGE, Calif. — Whitman and Chapman split the first four games of their NCAA Regional baseball series here on Friday and Saturday.
Chapman opened the best-of-five series with a 10-5 victory in the first game on Friday, but Whitman bounced back to take the nightcap, 2-1.
Saturday action then saw Whitman (28-20 record) lose the third game, 9-4, but kept itself alive with a 5-2 win that evened up the series.
The series will be decided here Sunday starting at noon.
On Friday, Travis Craven followed up a Blues game one loss with a complete-game victory in the nightcap to help earn Whitman a split against No. 6 Chapman here at Hart Park.
The opener saw the Blues jump on the Panthers early but unable to sustain the lead.
Whitman plated four runs over the first two innings highlighted by a trio of first-inning run-scoring doubles from Lucas Thrun, David Johnson and Jake Wishart.
Matthew Sox (6-2) suffered just his second loss of the season in six complete innings of work.
He navigated through the Chapman order the first go-around, but saw the Panthers bat the order and then some to the tune of six fourth-inning runs.
Jarod Penniman and Alex Tsuruda both delivered two-run base hits to help give their team its first lead and go up 7-3.
Sox would battle through the fourth inning and pitch two more before being lifted for Collin Anderson to start the seventh.
Sox finished with a final line of six earned runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Whitman cut into the lead with a run in the sixth on a Johnson RBI-hit to make it a 7-5 ball game.
Chapman tacked on three more runs one inning later to put the game away.
Hernandez (7-0), after getting tagged early in the game, allowed five earned runs in six complete innings for the win.
The nightcap featured a pitchers duel with Craven (8-5) getting the best of Mason Collins (8-4).
Craven, after racking up his pitch count in the early innings of the game, settled in and was able to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard and give the Blues a chance.
The play of the game came in the sixth inning when Whitman plated the game-tying and go-ahead runs.
Thrun and Johnson both singled to put two on with one out, and Wishart hit a sharp ball to left field.
The ball took a bad hop, sailing over senior Tristan Kevitch’s head to kick all the way to the wall.
Both runners came in to score to give Whitman a 2-1 lead.
Chapman struck early with a run in the second inning.
After a scoreless first, Joe Jimenez walked then advanced to third on a wild pitch.
With a runner in scoring position, Gregersen hit a dribbler to second base, beating out the throw to first while scoring Jimenez from third to put the Panthers up 1-0 early.
The run proved to be the only of the game as Craven gained steam throughout the game and the Blues gave him all the run support he needed.
On Saturday, Whitman kept its season alive despite dropping game three as the Blue rode the arm of Eric Ma for a game four win here at Hart Field.
The series now moves to a winner-take-all game five on Sunday at noon.
In a game that featured just about everything, Chapman scored early and then late to top the Blues 9-4 in game three of their NCAA Regional.
Kyle Reisman and David Johnson both had three hits with Johnson adding a run.
Charlie Carmichael (1-3) was tagged with the loss in five and two-thirds innings of relief work.
Whitman plated the game’s first run in its first at bats but Chapman responded with three in the bottom of the first off starter Tristan Kalnins.
Three walks loaded the bases to set up a sacrifice fly from Henry Zeisler with Jarod Penniman singling in the third run.
Whitman’s defense was on full display with Jake Wishart, Brett Williams and Matthew Sox all gunning down runners at home to keep their team in the game.
Ultimately it would not be enough as the backbreaking hit came in the eighth on Tristan Kevitch’s solo shot over the left field wall.
Nick Garcia (6-0) got the win in three innings of scoreless relief.
The pressure was on for Ma in the nightcap which proved to be an elimination game for the Blues.
Like Travis Craven on Friday, Ma delivered a complete game while battling through several tough innings but gaining momentum as the game went on to give Whitman a 5-2 win.
In improving to 8-3, Ma surrendered two runs (one unearned) on seven hits in his nine innings.
The Blues squandered several opportunities to put runs on the board in the first several innings, including a pair of inning-ending bases loaded double plays.
Meanwhile, Chapman manufactured one run each in the fifth and sixth innings and looked prime to finish off the Blues.
Undaunted, the Blues again had action on the base paths in the sixth inning.
This time they would take full advantage and explode for four runs to take a two-run lead.
RBI singles from both Anthony Nevoso and Nomura, who continued his stellar defense in left field, tied up the game before Reisman delivered a two-run hit to give Whitman its first lead.
Whitman would add an insurance run in the eight for Ma, who remained steady and closed the door on the Panthers in the ninth
Chapman threw six pitchers on the mound with Ben Ziv (0-1) tagged with the loss after giving up three runs in the sixth inning.
Friday’s First Game
Sox, Anderson (7), Carmichael (7), Ortiz (8) and Nevoso. Hernandez, Turner (7) and Jiminez.
HR — none.
Hits — Whitman: Williams 2, Johnson 2, Nomura, Thrun, Reisman, Wishart, Nakamura, Behrman. Chapman: Kevitch 2, Jiminez 2, Penniman 2, Littwin 2, Tsuruda, Shimabuku, Cheli, Wong.
Friday’s Second Game
Craven and Nakamura. Collins and Jiminez.
HR — none.
Hits — Chapman: Kevitch 3, Penniman 2, Shimabuku, Gregersen. Whitman: Thrun 3, Williams, Resiman, Johnson, Wishart, Nakamura.
Saturday’s First Game
Kalnins, Carmichael (2), Larson (8) and Nakamura. Glenn, Turner (5), Garcia (7) and Jiminez.
HR — Chapman: Kevitch.
Hits — Whitman: Reisman 3, Johnson 3, Williams 2, Wishart 2, Sox, Thrun. Chapman: Kevitch 4, Jiminez 3, Cheli 3, Tsuruda 2, Penniman 2, Shimabuku, Wong.
Saturday’s Second Game
Fleming, Merrill (4), Ziv (6), Joyce (6), Turner (6), Briggs (7), Glenn (8) and Jiminez. Ma and Nevoso, Lewis (7).
HR — none.
Hits — Chapman: Penniman 2, Tsuruda, Shimabuku, Kevitch, Littwin, Wong. Whitman: Reisman 2, Williams, Sox, Johnson, Wishart, Thrun, Nevoso, Nomura.