Assistant Hillsdale College baseball coach Gordie Theisen likes to quote Vince Gill to his players, win or lose: “There ain’t no future in the past.”
After dropping four games to top teams in the region and nation last weekend — three losses coming by a combined four runs — the Chargers have set their sights on next weekend’s series against Bellarmine.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t win the games we had a chance to win,” Theisen said. “It’s nice to have a chance to win those games against some of the top teams in the country, but there are no moral victories. The team mindset is on Bellarmine.”
Two of the games Hillsdale had a late chance to win came against the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles on Sunday after rain pushed the Chargers to Sunday and Monday for the second straight weekend.
In game one the Chargers opened up a 2 – 0 lead by the end of the fourth, thanks to RBIs from junior infielder Colin Boerst and freshman first baseman James Krick. By the start of the bottom of the ninth Hillsdale’s lead had grown to 6 – 0, with RBIs from sophomore outfielder Dante Toppi, senior infielder Alex Walts, and senior captain outfielder Ryan O’Hearn. Then, the machine broke down.
The Screaming Eagles combined three hits, five walks — one intentional — and two hit batters to push across seven runs in the bottom half of the frame to steal a 7 – 6 victory from the Chargers.
In a tough loss for Hillsdale, however, there were bright spots. Most notably the starting pitching performance from senior captain Will Kruse. Kruse struck out four over 5 1/3 innings, while allowing no runs on seven hits.
“I was able to finally get some things working and get some weak contact,” Kruse said. “Then the guys were just able to make plays behind me and strand some runner in key situations.”
Freshman David Toth also threw two strong innings in relief before allowing a couple of hits in the bottom of the ninth.
After the heartbreaker, the Chargers offense started game two with a flurry, scoring five runs before the Screaming Eagles even got a chance to bat. Krick drove in two in the inning, while an O’Hearn’s walk, a wild-pitch, and a double from junior catcher Steven Ring each added one more.
The potent Screaming Eagles offense responded, however, taking a 6 – 5 lead by the end of the third inning. A Krick double in the fifth tied the game, but a Southern Indiana run in the bottom of the sixth ended the scoring of the seven-inning game, sealing the second 7 – 6 loss for the Chargers on the day.
“It does give us confidence to know that we can play with teams like that, but it does suck,” Kruse said. “We have to look at ourselves, see what we can do, and take how crappy this feels and try to not let it happen again.”
On Monday the Chargers squared off against Missouri S&T in game one, falling 5 – 3.
The Miners jumped to a 3 – 0 lead in the second innings, but RBIs from junior infielder Dylan Lottinville and Krick in the second and third innings, respectively, brought the Chargers to 3 – 2.
“Krick looks like he’s seeing the ball really well,” O’Hearn said. “He barreled up a lot of balls. I’m really excited to see what he will bring to the table for the rest of the season and for the rest of his career.”
A run in each of the fifth and sixth clinched the game for the Miners, despite a late RBI from Boerst.
Sophomore starter Andrew Verbrugge had a strong outing in the game, tossing all nine innings, while only allowing three earned runs on eight hits. He was efficient in the start, throwing only 95 pitches.
“He threw a great game,” O’Hearn said. “Seeing that from him, that was awesome. I wish we could’ve had his back more with our offense, but he threw very well.”
In the weekend finale the Chargers met former-GLIAC foe Grand Valley St., dropping the game 19 – 3.
The game, however, was tight until the bottom of the sixth inning, when a 10-run Grand Valley inning blew the doors off of it. Lottinville, junior infielder Kevin Monson, and redshirt freshman Rob Zurawski all had an RBI in the game.
Walts caught the game for the Chargers, as well as the first game against Southern Indiana. Theisen said Walts was happy to fill the need, which is characteristic of him as a player.
“He is the ultimate utility man,” he said. “And the ultimate team man. He is willing to do anything, anywhere, anytime, no complaints. When you have seniors like that, it goes a long, long way to making the team better.”
Senior Phil Carey got the start, allowing four runs — only two earned — on four hits and no walks over 3 2/3 innings of work.
“Obviously you want to learn from this weekend,” O’Hearn said. “But we’re not going to dwell on it. If you dwell on it, that’s just going to hinder you in the future. So we’re just going to learn from the mistakes we made.”
The road doesn’t get easier for the Chargers, who head to Louisville, Kentucky, this weekend to face Bellarmine University, which didn’t graduate a single player from its team last season.
“Everybody that we’re playing can pitch,” Theisen said. “That is what makes these teams that are the best in the country and the region, the best in the country and the region: they can pitch…we’ve got to be ready to go.”