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The Hillsdale College baseball team opened up GLIAC play this past weekend, splitting dou­ble­headers with the Wayne State War­riors on Friday and Sat­urday in Detroit, Michigan.
“A split is OK, but we feel like we could have done a little better than that,” assistant coach Gordie Theisen said. “That said, it is a decent start to our con­ference season.”
The Chargers won game one on Sat­urday 5 – 4, the only game of the weekend in which neither team scored double digits.
Hillsdale opened up the scoring early, plating three runs in the top of the first, with senior third baseman Chris McDonald and junior first baseman Ethan Wiskur both recording an RBI.
In the bottom of the second inning the War­riors tied the game, stringing together four hits to score three runs off senior Hillsdale starter Jacob Gardner.
In the top of the fourth —  after a walk by senior left­fielder Tad Sobieszczanski and a single by senior right­fielder Connor Bartlett — sophomore second baseman Alex Walts recorded an RBI groundout to give the Chargers the lead.
Wayne State responded in the bottom half of the inning with an unearned run, tying the game once again and ending the day for Gardner, who threw 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs — three earned — on eight hits.
The bullpen was fan­tastic in the effort, with the senior trio of Evan Chalker, Mitchell Gatt, and McDonald com­bining for 3 1/3 innings, in which they allowed no runs on only one hit.
“One big takeaway is that our one-inning guys were incredible, as usual,” Theisen said.
The Chargers took the lead for good in the top of the sixth inning when Walts knocked an RBI single to score Sobieszczanski.
“Those close games are the one’s where everyone is excited and yelling. They are a lot of fun,” senior catcher Joe Gentile said. “It reminds you why you love the game.”
McDonald notched his ninth save of the season, giving him the Hillsdale single-season saves record.
“Those kinds of records are always in the back of your head, and so it is nice to be rec­og­nized,” he said. “But saves, more so than any other stat, is a team stat, and they had to put me in position for it, so we all deserve the credit.”
Gentile explained the con­fi­dence the team has in McDonald.
“As soon as he takes the mound, it’s shutdown. We’re going to win the game,” he said. “All that is left to do is shake hands and say, ‘See ya.’”
The War­riors topped the Chargers in game two on Sat­urday, but the game was much closer than the 10 – 1 final score indi­cates.
Sophomore starter Will Kruse con­tinued his string of solid starts, allowing only two runs in his first seven innings of work. In the eighth inning, however, the War­riors got to him, ending his day after 7 1/3 innings, in which he allowed five runs — four earned — on ten hits.
“It won’t show on that stat sheet, but Will was out­standing in his game,” Theisen said. “He got hit a little in the eighth inning, but to be fair, it was his eighth inning.”
In the top of the eighth, trailing only 2 – 1, Hillsdale was close to adding two runs to their tally. With two men on and two outs, however, a hard line drive from Wiskur was hauled in by Wayne State’s shortstop, ending the threat.
The War­riors then exploded for eight runs, and the Chargers went quietly in the top of the ninth.
McDonald explained the team’s mindset after the tough loss.
“One of our team philoso­phies is that the only pitch that matters is the next pitch,” he said. “So we have all the con­fi­dence that we can come back from any­thing.”
The first game on Sunday proved this, when the Chargers won a 20 – 10 shootout.
Nine dif­ferent Chargers had at least one hit in the game. Senior cen­ter­fielder Luke Ortel, McDonald, Wiskur, Sobieszczanski, Bartlett, Gentile all had multi-hit games, seven recorded RBIs, and 13 scored at least one run.
Sobieszczanski and Bartlett both hit tow­ering home runs which were “far from cheap,” according to Theisen.
The Chargers opened up the scoring, as they so often do, scoring three runs in the first inning, but found them­selves tied at four after four innings.
From that point the Chargers took control, scoring five runs in the fifth, one in the sixth, and 10 in the seventh.
The War­riors would strike twice in the sixth, and four times in the seventh, but the Charger offense was over­pow­ering.
Sophomore starter Phil Carey gave up four earned runs on six hits over four innings to record the win.
The final game of the series went to the War­riors 15 – 6.
After an RBI from Bartlett and two from freshman catcher Chris Ack­erman gave the Chargers a 3 – 0 lead after two innings, the War­riors offense kicked into gear, scoring in every inning after that.
Five dif­ferent Chargers pitched in the game, and each gave up at least two earned runs.
“Pitching was good most of the weekend, but at times we just have to work to be more effi­cient,” Theisen said.
Wiskur and Bartlett both recorded an RBI in the final five innings.
McDonald explained that, although it has been over­shadowed, the Chargers defense has been a key part of the team’s success.
“The offense once again showed its strength this weekend, but the defense was great as well,” he said. “It is def­i­nitely one of the most under­rated parts of our game.”
Hillsdale will travel to Tiffin this weekend to face the Oilers in dou­ble­headers on both Sat­urday and Sunday. The Chargers are con­fident going into the series.
“Prepa­ration for this weekend is business as usual,” Theisen said. “Per­sonally I expect us to win all four games.”