After a pair of one-run victories in the first two rounds of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament, the Charger bats heated up during a critical winner's bracket showdown with Malone University Friday afternoon.
Hillsdale (25-27) advanced to Saturday's championship game thanks to an 11-6 win over the Pioneers. This win was huge for the Chargers, because two games will need to be played among Malone, Kentucky Wesleyan and Walsh to determine Hillsdale's opponent Saturday, while the Chargers can spend the remainder of the day getting valuable rest.
This marks the first time in school history the Hillsdale College baseball team will play for a conference tournament championship.
An eight-team double elimination tournament means a successful team will eventually have to score big runs, and Hillsdale answered the bell Friday, pounding out 14 hits while generating a tournament-high 11 runs to support pitchers Chris Dunn and Kolton Rominski. Only two players in the Charger hitting lineup didn't get a hit, but those two players - Jake Hoover and Kevin Monson - combined to score five runs, ensuring their contributions to the offense were significant in the winning effort. The combined to draw three walks in the contest.
Hillsdale scored in five of the game's first six innings, with four of those being multi-run innings. The key early edge came courtesy Dylan Lottinville, who doubled home Hoover to put Hillsdale on top 1-0. Lottinville would later score off an Alex Walts single to make it a two-run edge.
Junior Colin Boerst provided perhaps the biggest hit of the game with a two-run double in the third inning that scored Walts and Monson, increasing the lead to 5-2. Boerst had been out of action for a month with an upper-body injury. However, that hit showed not only his characteristic power is back, but it gives Hillsdale another deadly offensive option in the lineup.
Junior Steven Ring blasted a two-run home run in the sixth inning to put the Chargers on top 10-4.
Boerst was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and Lottinville went 4-for-5 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored to lead the offense. Walts hammered out three hits, scored twice and drove one in while Dante Toppi was 1-for-4 with a walk and a run batted in.
Rominski got the win in relief, his fifth of the season, with five strikeouts in five innings on the hill. Dunn, a freshman, started and went four with four strikeouts.