The baseball team lost 11 of the 12 games it played down south over spring break.
“A rough trip,” said head coach Eric Theisen.
The Chargers played non-conference teams in Louisville, Ky., and Clearwater, Fla., between March 8. and Mar. 15. They lost all but the week’s last game against Lock Haven University.
Theisen said he hopes last week’s string of losses will prove a milestone for the team.
“We needed that,” Theisen said. “Baseball is a very humbling game. Sometimes you don’t fight until you taste your own blood.”
By the numbers, the Chargers actually outhit the other teams, 121 to 116, over the week. Before the last three games, however, runs were hard to come by.
Going into their Friday game against University of Minnesota — Crookston, the Chargers were averaging an anemic three runs per game. But then their bats woke up, cracking 45 hits in three games.
Hillsdale scored six runs against Minnesota and nine against Mansfield University. But they still lost each game by a single run.
Coming just short was a theme of Hillsdale’s week. They lost five games by two runs or less.
Theisen attributed the team’s losses to “small mistakes,” and a mismanaging of the game’s “little things.”
“Myself included,” Theisen said. “Everything in baseball is a little thing. Something we say is ‘sweat the small stuff.’”
Eleven straight losses behind them, ended the week on a high note: They crushed Lock Haven University, 16 – 5.
Hillsdale’s scoring bonanza started early. With two outs in the second inning, sophomore Connor Bartlett knocked a single into right field, scoring freshman Ethan Wiskur. A double from junior Vinny Delicata and a single from sophomore Luke Ortel put Hillsdale up, 3 – 0.
Lock Haven came back with five runs in the 4th inning, but Hillsdale responded with a two-run 5th inning, a three-run 6th, and an eight-run 8th. Hillsdale recorded 20 hits in the game to Lock Haven’s 10.
Lock Haven couldn’t score another runner, and Hillsdale finally got the week’s first victory.
“Any team knows 16 runs won’t happen every game,” Theisen said. “Our approaches and mentalities to each game must remain the same because that will not.”
The team started figuring out those approaches by the end of the week, Theisen said.
“We are a different team now than when we went down there,” he said.
On the pitching side of things, junior Shane Armstrong said Hillsdale’s rotation threw well. The week’s intense schedule of games taxed the bullpen particularly. Every pitcher on the team got a chance to help share the workload and gain some in-game experience.
“Which is awesome,” Armstrong said, “because everyone has some pitching under their belt, and it won’t be a shock for them in conference play, where it matters a little bit more.”
Hillsdale College baseball begins GLIAC play today at Adrian College against Grand Valley State University. Last week’s games were all non-conference, meaning they don’t count against the team’s post-season ambitions.
Going into the GVSU game, Armstrong said the team is optimistic — even if last week didn’t go exactly as planned.
“Next game, our record is 0 and 0, and anything can happen,” Armstrong said.