Hillsdale's return to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Baseball Tournament did not go as planned Thursday afternoon.
The Chargers, the #8 seed in the regional tournament, fell to #1 seed and host Illinois-Springfield 11-2 in first-round action at Robin Roberts Stadium in Springfield, Illinois.
Hillsdale (26-29) will next match up with Ohio Dominican in an elimination game at 10 a.m. CDT Friday morning.
A close game got broken up in the bottom of the seventh when the Prairie Stars scored six times to expand a 3-1 lead to 9-1.
Up to that point, Charger starter Will Kruse was effective, though the team struggled to get runners across home plate. Through six innings, with the score still 3-1, Hillsdale had stranded 11 runners on base. Against a team that pitches and defends as well as UIS does, it's tough to overcome.
UIS scored in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead, but in the third Hillsdale appeared to have tied it up. With the bases loaded and one out, Alex Walts hit a fly ball that sent Colin Hites home from third. After Hites scored, Jake Hoover was thrown out attempting to reach third base for the third out of the inning. However, the home plate umpire decided to wave off Hites' run, keeping the Chargers down a run.
Hites figured in the team's first (counted) run of the game when he drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the sixth to draw Hillsdale within one, 2-1. The Chargers' other tally came courtesy of a long solo home run to left by sophomore outfielder Dante Toppi.
Kruse took the loss, striking out four batters while allowing eight earned runs in 6 1/3 innings on the hill. Kolton Rominski didn't allow a run in 1 2/3 innings of work.