The Hillsdale College baseball team has won lots of memorable and impactful games over the past three seasons.
But it would be hard to top the two the team won on Saturday.
The Chargers reclaimed first place in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with a doubleheader sweep of 15th-ranked Ohio Dominican University, 8-7 and 6-3, in Columbus.
Hillsdale is now 18-20 overall and 15-5 in the G-MAC, while the Panthers fell to 13-5 in conference play. Hillsdale, Findlay and Ohio Dominican are all tied with five losses this season, but Hillsdale's 15 wins – ODU has 13 and Findlay 12 wins - give it ownership of first place for now.
Neither game was won without some drama. The Chargers had an 8-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning of game one. The Panthers went to their bench and produced four runs, closing the gap to one run before freshman David Toth shut the door, securing his fifth save of the season.
Senior starter Will Kruse picked up his fourth win of the season, and made some history in doing so. Thanks to his 8 1/3 innings pitched, he broke Hillsdale's career record for innings pitched. He broke the record previously held by Corey Krug, a record that had stood since 2006. Kruse now stands at 276.1 innings pitched – and counting – in his career.
Kruse was able to limit damage the dangerous ODU offense did throughout his outing. The Panthers scored twice in the first and once in the fourth but wouldn't score again until the ninth inning, as Kruse held down the fort while his offense gave him some good run support.
Hillsdale jumped out to an immediate 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Chargers scored in five of the game's first six innings to take an 8-3 lead after the sixth. Seven of the team's nine batters in the lineup notched hits and six had RBI in a well-balanced attack.
Senior Colin Hites went 3-for-5 with a run scored and a run batted in from his leadoff position. Senior Alex Walts was 2-for-5 with 2 RBI, and junior Steven Ring brought home two runs and scored another. Mike Mitchell, getting the start at DH, came through with a pair of hits and a run batted in.
Game two saw the Panthers get off to a 2-0 lead after a first-inning home run off Charger starter Phil Carey. But Carey settled down impressively after that, throwing five straight scoreless innings on his way to picking up his fifth win of the season. Carey allowed just four hits and struck out two as he located his pitches well and got the Panthers to swing at balls that resulted in outs.
Toth finished off the game, getting his second save of the day with a strikeout in the seventh, ending a bases-loaded threat by ODU.
Again, a wide array of players contributed offensively to Hillsdale's game two win, with seven different players getting hits. But this time, the team's power was on display as it cranked out three home runs.
Walts and Dante Toppi hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth when the team took the lead for good. Walts hit a two-run shot while Toppi followed with a solo blast to erase the early 2-0 deficit.
Jake Hoover launched an opposite-field home run in the top of the seventh, his first of the season. Hoover would go 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the win.
Walts, Toppi, Dylan Lottinville and Ring all scored runs, with Walts driving in a pair with his home run.