Hillsdale College baseball: Keeping playoff hopes alive
Going into week 12 we were ready to get things back on track after the rough weekend at home against Ashland. We had six games this week, one non-conference game Tuesday and then 5 conference games between Wednesday and Sunday.
The first game of the week was a non-conference contest against Lourdes University in Toledo, Ohio. Lourdes is a small NAIA school that plays in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. We went to Toledo looking to get back into a good groove and carry it into our conference games.
In the game against Lourdes, the same things that hindered us in our previous losses haunted us in this game. Our pitchers as a whole fell behind batters, gave up too many free bases, and did not give our team a chance to compete. We compounded freebies with errors on defense and gave Lourdes runs they didn’t earn. At the end of the third inning we were down 4-0. Our offense picked up the pitching staff with four runs in the top of the fourth, another run in the fifth gave us a 5-4 lead. When the offense gives the pitchers a lead to work with it is important to come back out and put up a zero to get the offense back to work. In the bottom of the fifth we gave up three runs and Lourdes took a 7-5 lead. Each team put up zeros for the remainder of the game and we took the hard loss.
After Tuesday we weren’t feeling so good about ourselves, but the good thing about baseball is that you get to go out and play the next day and the score is 0-0. We took the bus to Midland, Mich. to take on Northwood University in a conference double-header. Sophomore Chris McDondald, or as he as known to us, “Deezy”, started on the mound and shut Northwood down for the first five innings. Going into the sixth we had a 1-0 lead. Northwood finally got to Chris for two runs in the bottom of the sixth and went up by one. Our offense responded great in the top of the seventh with six runs and we closed out the Timberwolves to take the first game 7-2. Junior Nolan Breymaier led the way with two hits and two RBI.
We took the momentum from the first game right into the second one as freshman RHP Ethan Wiskur gave us a solid performance on the mound. We had steady offense and defense the entire way and took the second game of the day 5-2. Chris McDonald played a big role in this game at the plate with two hits and three RBI, capping off a great day at the yard.
After the two wins against Northwood, we had good vibes going into three more conference games against Wayne State University for the weekend. Going into the weekend we had a conference record of 9-8 and a series win would put us in a great spot in the standings. We headed to Detroit for a double-header on Saturday. We came out flat from the start as the Warriors scored five runs in the first, three in the second, and seven in the third to give them an early 15-1 lead. The same things we struggled with against Lourdes were our demise against Wayne State. Free bases led to runs being scored against us and kept us from competing like we want to. We ended up losing the first game 18-4.
We were looking to redeem ourselves in the second game and split the double-header. Although we played better than we did in the first game, Wayne State scored in each of the first five innings while our offense struggled to push runs across and we lost the second game 6-1. On Sunday we dropped the third game of the series 13-5 in another game where free bases kept us from having a chance to win. Getting swept was the last thing we wanted to happen but the past is in the past and all we can do is look forward to our games in the coming week.
As of now we are ninth in the conference standings with a record of 9-11. The top six teams in the conference move on to the conference tournament. The teams between us and a playoff spot have records of 7-8, 9-10, and 8-8 so we are very much in reach of a playoff spot. The next few weeks make or break the season.