For the Hillsdale College Chargers, the beginning of conference play marks a fresh start to the season. After a month of non-conference play, the Chargers took on the University of Findlay Oilers in a four-game series. The Chargers met the Oilers in Defiance, Ohio, for the first two games, and the next day both teams traveled to Adrian College for the second pair of games. Hillsdale was able to take three of the four games, moving to 6 – 9 on the year with a 3 – 1 record in the G-MAC.
In the first game on March 17, junior Andrew Verbrugge got the start on the mound for Hillsdale. After an up-and-down start to the season, Verbrugge found his groove, allowing only two earned runs in six innings pitched. Sophomore David Toth entered in the seventh with the Chargers down 3 – 2.
Other than a home run by senior Steven Ring in the bottom of the fourth, Hillsdale struggled to find its rhythm at the plate early in the first game. The Oilers took a 4 – 2 lead into the bottom of the eighth, but a two-run double by sophomore James Krick in the eighth and a scoreless ninth took the game to extra innings.
After two scoreless innings, the Chargers took advantage of a Findlay error to win, 5 – 4. Toth was awarded the victory, moving him to 2 – 3 on the year.
Hillsdale got on the board first in game two after junior Dante Toppi drove in a run with a single to right field. Senior Jonathan Lapshan started on the mound and breezed through the first three innings, and the Chargers led 1 – 0 going into the fourth.
The Oilers scored twice in the top of the fourth to give Findlay a 2 – 1 lead, but Lapshan righted the ship. In the bottom of the fourth, a solo home run by sophomore Rob Zurawski — his first of the year — tied the game. Senior Colin Boerst doubled in two runs in the bottom of the fifth to give Hillsdale a 4 – 2 lead.
After a dominant closing outing by junior Chris Stewart, the Chargers held on to win game two.
In game three, Hillsdale fell behind early and struggled to string hits together at the plate. The Oilers scored six runs in the eighth and ninth innings to put the game away, as the Chargers dropped game three, 11 – 6.
Sophomore Sawyer Allen got the start for Hillsdale in game four. After a rough start to the season, Allen turned in a solid performance, giving up two runs in four innings pitched.
While Hillsdale was strong in the field, they struggled to find run support. Ring drove in three runs on two hits, but the Chargers struggled to find other contributors. The game headed into the bottom of the seventh and final inning tied at three.
After Hillsdale loaded the bases, sophomore James Krick stepped into the batter’s box with a chance to end it with one swing. That’s exactly what he did by lacing a walk-off single to right field, giving the Chargers a 4 – 3 victory and a series win.
After the opening series of G-MAC play, Hillsdale sits in third in the G-MAC with a 3 – 1 conference record. Conference play will continue this weekend when the Chargers will travel to play Kentucky Wesleyan College for a four-game series. Hillsdale will play at 1 and 4:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.