This time of year, it matters less how you win than if you win.
The Hillsdale College baseball team survived a severe ninth-inning scare from Trevecca Nazarene, but was able to pull out a 4-3 win in the first round of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Chargers, 23-27 on the season, will now play at 4:45 p.m. Thursday against Walsh University in a winner's bracket matchup.
Senior Alex Walts delivered a bases-loaded single in the top of the eighth inning that brought home Colin Hites and Jake Hoover to break open what had been a 2-1 Hillsdale lead to 4-1. As it turned out, those two runs were critical to the final result.
The Trojans scored two runs without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to make it a 4-3 game. But freshman pitcher David Toth was able to work his way clear of the jam, striking out two batters and forcing a line drive out to right to end the ballgame.
The Trojans outhit the Chargers 7-5 in the game, but never led, thanks to a pair of runs in the top of the first. A fielder's choice allowed Jake Hoover to score the game's first run, and Dylan Lottinville scored the second thanks to a double by Kevin Monson.
The lead held throughout the game, thanks in big part to the terrific outing turned in by sophomore pitcher Andrew Verbrugge. He got his fifth win of the season by going eight innings with five strikeouts and no walks allowed. The one run he allowed was unearned, and his quality pitching was important through the middle innings, when Hillsdale was holding onto a one-run lead.