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NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Baseball Preview

NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Baseball Preview

NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Baseball Tournament Webpage

Midwest Region Bracket

TICKET INFO: 
All Tournament Pass – $30
Single-Day Pass (Adults) – $10
Single-Day Pass (Senior Citizens) – $5
Single-Day Pass (Students with ID) – $5
Single-Day Pass (Youth: K/12) – $5
Children (5-Under) – Free
Only cash will be accepted for admission

 

History continues to be written on a daily basis for the Hillsdale College baseball team. Whether it was a nine-RBI performance from its top power hitter, or winning the first conference tournament title in school history, the Chargers are pushing the bar of success further to the north as it ventures through the month of May.

Hillsdale (26-28) received its first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament. This year, the Chargers are the No. 8 seed and head to the University of Illinois-Springfield for the regional. Hillsdale takes on the host Prairie Stars at 1:30 p.m. Central Time Thursday in the first round. A first-round win means Hillsdale plays the winner of the Ohio Dominican-Quincy game at 5:00 Friday. A first-round loss means the Chargers play the loser of the aforementioned 4-5 game at 10 a.m. Friday.

This is the Chargers' second-ever appearance at the NCAA Tournament and second in the past three seasons.

The other first-round matchups are: #4 Ohio Dominican vs. #5 Quincy, #2 Bellarmine vs. #7 Southern Indiana, and #3 Northwood vs. #6 Ashland. All regional games will be played on the campus of the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Hillsdale's victory in last week's G-MAC Tournament secured its spot in the tournament. The Chargers used a combination of clutch pitching and power hitting to win the conference title in its first year as a member of the G-MAC. Over the final three games of the tournament, Hillsdale scored 35 runs, hitting six home runs and banging out 36 hits. Junior Steven Ring, the reigning G-MAC Player of the Week, was central in the power surge, hitting three home runs with nine runs batted in during the 15-2 win over Kentucky Wesleyan in the winner-take-all championship game last Saturday.

But perhaps no performance had the clutch gene embodied by sophomore pitcher Joe Hamrick. Making his first start of the season in that winner-take-all game, Hamrick was brilliant, pitching all seven innings with eight hits and two runs allowed. A by-product of an eight-team double elimination tournament is the strain it places on a pitching staff. Like most teams who get to Game 15 of a tournament, Hillsdale was short on available arms. But Hamrick was handed the ball, and turned in an unforgettable appearance in helping Hillsdale qualify for the postseason.

Now, the journey begins again. Pitching arms will be fresh and rested, the bats hope to continue their forward momentum as the field of opponents gets tougher. None tougher than the Prairie Stars, who easily earned the top seed in this year's Midwest Regional.

UIS enjoyed a 29-game winning streak during the regulr season, a streak that, ironically, began with a win over Hillsdale back on March 10. The teams played a four-game series in Springfield, with the Chargers winning that first matchup by a score of 6-3 in 10 innings. UIS won the final three, by the slim margins of 2-1, 3-1 and 3-2. UIS didn't lose a game from March 10 to April 25, ripping through the GLVC with a deep and potent pitching staff. The Prairie Stars enter the postseason with a 45-7 record, although they lost both games in the GLVC Tournament last week. Finishing a regular season 40 games above .500 is an extremely rare achievement, and one that represents a big challenge for the Chargers to overcome.

But Hillsdale knows it can beat UIS, something few teams have done all year. The Hillsdale lineup features an enviable mix of power and speed, and with the return of Colin Boerst to the lineup after missing a month, the team's run-producing capabilities go way up. 

The Chargers have found a measure of success against the other teams in this year's regional field. Hillsdale constructed one of the most challenging schedules of any team in the region, playing a total of 15 games against the other seven teams. Hillsdale earned regional wins over Illinois-Springfield, Northwood and Ohio Dominican (twice), so it knows it can compete with anyone in the field.