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Will Smith at the plate against SVSU on Tuesday. (Julia Mullins | Col­legian)

After a series win against the Uni­versity of Findlay got the Chargers off to a strong start to the con­ference season, Hillsdale struggled in last weekend’s four-game road series against the Ken­tucky Wes­leyan College Pan­thers. Hillsdale lost the first three games and won the fourth, moving them to a 4 – 4 record in the G-MAC.

 

Sat­urday, March 23 (Game 1): Ken­tucky Wes­leyan 8, Hillsdale 6

Junior pitcher Andrew Ver­brugge got the start on the mound for the Chargers in game one. Ver­brugge showed flashes of bril­liance but struggled to find con­sistent control of strike zone, allowing five walks and five runs in 5 ⅔ innings.

Senior third baseman Colin Boerst started off the scoring in the top of the first, sin­gling up the middle to score senior second baseman Kevin Monson. Boerst had three hits and a walk in game one. After the weekend series, Boerst holds a .387 batting average with 10 runs batted in.

Hillsdale and Ken­tucky Wes­leyan traded runs throughout the game, heading into the ninth tied at five. In the top of the ninth, junior first baseman Jacob DePillo hit a solo home run to left-center field, giving the Chargers a 6 – 5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. With sophomore pitcher David Toth on the mound, Hillsdale looked to hold on to a win in the first game of the series.

In the bottom of the ninth, however, things went awry. After back-to-back leadoff singles, Toth allowed a three-run home run and Ken­tucky Wes­leyan took the first game of the series 8 – 6.

 

Sat­urday, March 23 (Game 2): Ken­tucky Wes­leyan 10, Hillsdale 6

The Chargers looked to rebound in the second game with senior pitcher Jonathan Lapshan on the mound. The Pan­thers jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 3 – 0 lead.

The bottom of Hillsdale’s lineup answered with vengeance. In the top of the second, senior catcher Chris Ack­erman drove in a run with a double to left, and then scored on a single by junior shortstop Jake Hoover.

In the top of the third, Ack­erman came back up to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a home run to center field, scoring four and giving the Chargers a 6 – 3 lead. Ack­erman fin­ished game two with two hits and five RBIs.

After this out­burst, however, the bats fell silent and Hillsdale struggled defen­sively. Ken­tucky Wes­leyan scored three in the fourth, one in the fifth, and three in the sixth to take a 10 – 6 lead. After the Chargers failed to score in the top of the seventh, the Pan­thers took a 2 – 0 lead in the series.

 

Sunday, March 24 (Game 1): Ken­tucky Wes­leyan 6, Hillsdale 3

Sophomore pitcher Austin Mora got the start in game three as Hillsdale looked to get back on track. After a solid first inning, Mora gave up a run in the second and a grand slam in the third as Ken­tucky Wes­leyan took a 5 – 0 lead into the fourth inning.

The Chargers struggled to produce at the top of the lineup, with the top four hitters hitting a com­bined 1 – 13 in game three. Hillsdale’s only offensive pro­duction came from the bottom of the lineup in the top of the fourth inning, when junior left fielder Jake Rhodes hit a three-run homer to right-center, cutting the Pan­thers lead to two.

Aside from this offensive explosion, the Chargers failed to string hits together. After Ken­tucky Wes­leyan stretched the lead to three with a run in the bottom of the sixth, Hillsdale failed to score, falling in the third game 6 – 3.

 

Sunday, March 24 (Game 2): Hillsdale 4, Ken­tucky Wes­leyan 3 (10 innings)

After dropping the first three games of the series, the Chargers had one more oppor­tunity to reg­ister a victory. Hillsdale turned to sophomore pitcher Sawyer Allen to start on the mound. After the Pan­thers scored a run in each of the first three innings, Allen dialed up the intensity, keeping Hillsdale in the game by holding Ken­tucky Wes­leyan scoreless in the next four innings.

Boerst had another solid game at the plate, hitting a solo homer in the top of the second and driving in another in the top of the fourth as the Pan­thers held a 3 – 2 lead.

The Chargers had trouble breaking through until the top of the seventh inning when the bottom of the lineup came up big in the clutch once more. After sophomore out­fielder Rob Zurawski doubled to left field, senior out­fielder Christian Rodino drove him in on a triple to left field, tying the game at 3.

Allen came out after the seventh and Hillsdale turned to freshman reliever Caleb Biedenharn to keep the game tied. Biedenharn pitched mas­ter­fully, holding Ken­tucky Wes­leyan scoreless in the eighth and ninth to force extra innings.

The Chargers didn’t waste any time in extra innings. Hoover walked, stole second, and then scored on a throwing error by the catcher on a strikeout by freshman Matt Granzotto. Hillsdale managed to get runners on the corners, but could only tally one run in the inning.

In the bottom of the tenth, Biedenharn put the game away by holding the Pan­thers scoreless, giving the Chargers a 4 – 3 victory.

 

Tuesday, March 26: Saginaw Valley 14, Hillsdale 8

The Chargers played in their home opener against the Saginaw Valley State Uni­versity Car­dinals, a regional opponent. The bats finally showed signs of life for Hillsdale after two runs in the first and two runs in the second. The Chargers jumped out a 4 – 2 lead going into the third inning.

That optimism faded quickly, however, as the Car­dinals scored nine runs in the third inning, one in the fourth, and one in the fifth to take a 13 – 4 lead they would never relin­quish.

The Chargers were able to stop the bleeding and gen­erate some offense in the fol­lowing innings. Hoover fin­ished the day 3 – 5 with two runs, while senior catcher Steven Ring went 3 – 4 with an RBI and a run. Toth and freshman pitcher Will Gifford both threw scoreless innings, but the deficit was too great as Saginaw Valley came away with a 14 – 8 victory.

 

Up Next

Looking forward, the Chargers will travel to Ohio this weekend to play a four-game series against the Tiffin Uni­versity Dragons. The Dragons are 3 – 7 in the G-MAC.

 

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    It’s still early in the season and our starting Pitchers are trying to find con­sis­tency. That will come with time. In the meantime, we need to put more runs across the plate.

    Ken­tucky Wes­leyan is a good program, but we should have gotten two wins against them. Both games on the second day were winnable, we just couldn’t get enough hits in Game 3 of the 4 game series. We need some folks to come through until our starting Pitchers work off the rust.