One characteristic of the 2018 Hillsdale College baseball team has been its resiliency. Even in a loss that ended its season, that quality came through loud and clear.
The postseason run came to an end for the Hillsdale College baseball team Friday afternoon in a 4-3 loss to conference rival Ohio Dominican in the second round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament. Hillsdale's season ends with a 26-30 record.
Facing a 4-0 deficit entering the ninth inning, the Chargers' belief never left, and they made one of the best closers in the country sweat before the game went final.
Hillsdale scored three ninth-inning runs off MLB prospect Brad Wilson, cutting the four-run deficit to one after Dylan Lottinville's RBI single brought home Colin Hites. But Wilson forced a fly out for the third out of the game, giving the Panthers their first-ever regional win.
The Chargers got decent production from the lineup, generating 10 hits in the game. But they stranded 11 runners, including two in the ninth, proving to be costly in such a closely played game.
Some of Hillsdale's seniors, playing in their final collegiate game, went out with terrific efforts. Senior Alex Walts, who will enlist in the Marine Corps, was 4-for-5 with a ninth-inning RBI. Ryan O'Hearn punched out three hits and Colin Hites was 3-for-5.
Sophomore starter Andrew Verbrugge pitched a gutsy game, going 8.2 innings while scattering six hits against a strong Panther lineup. He struck out two and didn't allow an earned run in the final appearance of his breakout season.
In 26 seasons of history from 1990-2015, Hillsdale never qualified once for the NCAA Tournament. But the Chargers have now appeared in the postseason two of the past three years, a testament to the recruiting of coaches Eric Theisen and Gordie Theisen, and the players' tireless work ethic, energy and ability to buy into the program that has resulted in unprecedented success over the past three seasons.