Sophomore Andrew Ver­brugge won G‑MAC North Division Pitcher of the Week this week for the first time in his career. (Photo: Trish Ver­brugge | Courtesy)

A 1 – 2 weekend against the Findlay Oilers (18 – 10, 11 – 5 G‑MAC) left the Hillsdale College baseball team (16 – 20, 13 – 5 G‑MAC) just behind the Ohio Dominican Pan­thers (25 – 8, 13 – 5 G‑MAC) for first place in the G‑MAC.

“It wasn’t exactly the weekend we wanted, but there are no perfect seasons in baseball,” senior Ryan O’Hearn said. “You just have to learn from your mis­takes and focus on the next one…We’re not down in the dumps at all, because we know there’re a lot of really important games ahead of us.”

Game one at Simpson Field on Thursday was a wild affair, with a com­bined 21 runs coming on a total of 32 hits and eight errors to bring the game to its 11 – 10 Findlay over Hillsdale con­clusion.

After two unearned Findlay runs in the top of the first, the Chargers took their lone lead of the game on a set of RBI knocks from sophomore Jake Hoover, junior Dylan Lot­tinville, and senior Alex Walts.

The lead was short-lived, as the Oilers scored two in the second and three in the fourth to open up a lead. A Charger run in the bottom half of the fourth and three more in the sixth tied the game 7 – 7, but four runs for Findlay over the seventh and eighth innings pushed the game to 11 – 7.

The Chargers rallied in the bottom of the ninth to bring the game to 11 – 10, but they left the bases loaded to drop the first game of the weekend.

“It’s just a few small breaks each game,” head coach Eric Theisen said. “We’re not playing bad baseball, it’s just a couple of balls falling for hits here or there, a couple of hits with runners in scoring position, or a big strikeout in a sit­u­ation where we need to get out of an inning.”

Six dif­ferent Chargers drove in a run in the game, including three for Hoover, two for Walts and O’Hearn, and a solo home run from freshman James Krick.

Senior Will Kruse gave up seven runs in his five innings, but only three were earned.

The front end on Friday belonged to the Oilers from the first inning, when a two-out rally cul­mi­nated in a grand slam. They added two more on a two-run shot in the second.

Hillsdale pushed its lone run across the plate in the bottom of the second when O’Hearn singled in junior Kevin Monson.

Theisen men­tioned Monson’s ability to step in at second base and reach base while the Chargers fight through some injuries.

The Oilers would add two more runs in the seventh, even­tually winning the game 8 – 1, despite only out-hitting the Chargers 10 – 8.

Just as he did last weekend, sophomore Andrew Ver­brugge took the mound for game three looking to stave off a sweep. Again, he delivered.

Ver­brugge, a ground ball pitcher, hurled all nine innings, allowing only one unearned run on three hits and striking out five.

O’Hearn said the team plays with con­fi­dence behind Ver­brugge, and added that watching him work from center field pro­vides some enter­tainment.

“It’s great playing behind him. I know I’m only going to get maybe one ball a game,” he said. “In center, you see him throwing four dif­ferent pitches from three dif­ferent arm angles, and the ball moves and he makes the batters look silly.”

Theisen com­mended Ver­brugge on his effi­ciency and reli­a­bility, as the com­plete game was his fourth in a row, part of a streak which includes allowing only eight hits over his last 28 innings worked.

The G‑MAC office rewarded Ver­brugge for those feats, awarding him G‑MAC North Division Pitcher of the Week on Monday. It was the first time Ver­brugge won the award.

“It feels great to get the award and be rec­og­nized for the hard work put in by not only myself, but by my team­mates. They are a huge part of the reason that I received the award, since they’re always there to back me up in the field,” Ver­brugge said in an email. “After receiving this, I, and the team, need to keep doing our best com­peting and getting our worship on so good results like this will keep coming.”

The Charger offense sup­plied Ver­brugge with plenty of run support in the affair. After junior Colin Hites scored on a passed ball in the first, Lot­tinville sent a solo home run onto the intra­mural fields in the second. The Chargers added on four more runs, bringing the game to its 6 – 1 final.

“We have a lot of con­fi­dence in this team, because we know we’re good and can produce from every spot in the lineup,” O’Hearn said. “Hitting is con­ta­gious, so we know once we start hitting the ball around early in the game it’s going to be a good game for us.”

After opening the G‑MAC 11 – 1 against the South Division, Hillsdale is now 2 – 4 against North Division oppo­nents. Theisen said this is the type of play his team looks forward to.

“The teams that we’ve played the last two weekends are pretty good teams,” Theisen said. “We’re starting to get into that post­season type of play here in the last few weeks of the season.”

Hillsdale enters a huge weekend of play, as they head to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Ohio Dominican Pan­thers — ranked 15th nationally — in a four-game set over Friday and Sat­urday.

“Going into these last few weeks we are just trying to play our best baseball going into the con­ference tour­nament,” Theisen said. “We want to try and get that number one seed, we have our eyes set on that, so this weekend will be a big weekend. ODU is the only team in the con­ference that is nationally ranked and we’ve got them at their place… and I’m willing to bet they’re going to be some tight games.”