Sopho­mores Chris Stewart (38) and Jake Hoover (7) greet sophomore Dante Toppi (14) after a home run in a game earlier this season. (Photo: Trish Ver­burgge | Courtesy)

The Hillsdale College baseball team won its first G‑MAC tour­nament cham­pi­onship on Sat­urday after beating Ken­tucky Wes­leyan Uni­versity 15 – 2. A com­bi­nation of hot bats and great pitching led the Chargers to their cham­pi­onship crown.

“[Sophomore pitcher] Joe Hamrick threw one of the best games of his career. He only let up two runs,” senior out­fielder Ryan O’Hearn said. “We were cooking on all cylinders. It really takes leaders on the team, and our hitting was con­ta­gious.”

The Chargers made it to the cham­pi­onship day with an unde­feated tour­nament resume. That meant they only had to win one of their next two games against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan. Coach Eric Theisen said it was nice to be in the position of only having to win one game. That cushion proved to be critical in Hillsdale’s run to the tour­nament title.  

“We knew we just had to win one of two games, and two games is what it took,” O’Hearn said. “This was their seventh game of the week, so I knew it would be tough.”

The first game against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan on Sat­urday ended in a 13 – 9 loss for the Chargers.

“You just have to have a short memory and move on,” Theisen said. “Our boys did a good job of that.”

The Chargers came back swinging in their second game. Junior catcher Steven Ring hit three home runs, setting a program record for most home runs in a season with 15. Ring now has 35 career home runs. Sophomore out­fielder Dante Toppi also swatted a home run.

The team’s next game will be Thursday, May 17 in the NCAA regional tour­nament in Spring­field, Illinois. Hillsdale will be taking on the host team and top seed in the region, the Uni­versity of Illinois Spring­field.

“We played four games against them earlier this season, so we’re familiar with them,” Theisen said. “We won the first game in the series, so it’s nice to know we’ve already beat them.”

O’Hearn said that the pre­vious win gives the Chargers con­fi­dence going into the tour­nament.

“We’re excited and con­fident. We’ve prac­ti­cally played every team in our region,” O’Hearn said. “It only takes a few wins to win the region, and we’re a hot team right now with a lot of momentum.”