March 27, 2013 - The Hillsdale College baseball team played Grand Valley State as even as you can through 16 well-played innings Wednesday afternoon.
These two longtime GLIAC rivals dueled each other in two tight games, each winning one. Hillsdale rallied from a 4-0 deficit to top GVSU 6-5 in the first game. Game two needed nine innings to decide a winner, with the Lakers coming through with a 3-1 victory in the nightcap. Both teams ared 10-8 overall, while the Chargers are now 3-2 in conference play.
Hillsdale will play a three-game series at Tiffin Friday and Saturday.
The Charger offense was silenced by GVSU pitching through the first four innings of the opener. But starting in the fifth inning, the team came to life, chipping away at the deficit hit-by-hit.
Senior Brad Hayden got the rayy started with a well-placed single that scored sophomore Vinny Delicata. Senior Mike Vanchieri delivered the game-tying run on a sac fly, scoring freshman Luke Ortel, who had a huge day at the plate for Hillsdale.
Ortel provided the game-winning RBI by lancing a double to left-center field, scoring Delicata and senior Scott Lantis. The freshman leadoff hitter had four hits in seven at-bats between the two games, and was a clear catalyst for the offense.
Sophomore starting pitcher Shane Armstrong got the win, recovering nicely from a tough start, when he gave up two runs in the top of the first inning. In six innings, Armstrong allowed four runs and had three strikeouts.
Sophomore Dan Pochmara closed out the win for the Chargers, his third save of the season and the eighth of his career, setting a new career record at the school. Pochmara had five saves as a freshman in 2011, but missed all of 2012 while recovering from an injury. He has bounced back impressively this season, and now stands alone atop the record books with more than half of his career yet to go.
Ortel scored Hillsdale's lone run in the second game after leading off the contest with a double. He scored on a groundout by freshman Tad Sobieszczanski. By Laker pitcher Anthony Campanella slammed the door from there. Although Campanella had just three strikeouts, two of them came in the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Chargers had a runner in scoring position, a critical juncture in the contest.
Absorbing the loss on the mound for Hillsdale was senior Kris Morris, who turned in another gem of an outing. He pitched eight innings, issued no walks and struck out four batters, and did an outstanding job of keeping the Laker hitters off-balance throughout the game. GVSU was able to load the bases with no outs in the ninth, and used a pinch-hit single to score the decisive runs in the game.
Connor Bartlett, Sobieczszanski and Vanchieri all had hits in the nightcap for Hillsdale.