Baseball team suffers setback at Hillsdale
After promising start to season Cardinals drop three of four against Chargers, Grand Valley on deck
March 27, 2006 —
With the baseball team traveling to Hillsdale, ranked eighth in the GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll out of nine teams, the Cardinals knew they needed to take advantage and pick up some early conference victories against a weaker opponent.
Instead, the Chargers were the ones taking advantage, beating up on the Cardinals in taking three of the four weekend games and putting the Cards in a tough spot heading into games against Grand Valley this weekend.
The team began their GLIAC schedule Saturday with losses in both games of the doubleheader 8-2 and 7-5.
In Game 1, Hillsdale plated six of its eight runs in an eventful first inning when the Chargers batted around against sophomore starter Scott Roy.
Roy, who took the loss and dropped to 2-1 on the young season, allowed seven runs, six earned, in five innings of work while striking out six and walking three.
While the pitching was very rocky in the first inning, the Cards' defense was questionable in the sixth. The defense committed four of its five errors in the bottom of the inning behind junior pitcher Matt Parker.
After retiring two of the first three Charger batters, the Cards committed three errors on one play, allowing the Hillsdale runner to score from first. After the next batter reached on an error by senior first baseman Ben Grinnell, Parker struck out Hillsdale's Dennis Czuchaj to escape the inning with only one run given up.
Offensively, the Cardinals struggled to get their bats going, getting only six hits while the Chargers managed to get five in the first inning alone.
Leading the way offensively for SVSU were junior shortstop Pat Kenney and sophomore centerfielder Reed Welker.
Kenney went 2-for-3 with a run scored while Welker had a single, a double, and an RBI in three at-bats.
In Game 2, the defense doomed any hopes the Cards' had of earning a double header split with five more defensive miscues.
The Chargers scored six of their seven runs in a disastrous third inning that saw the Cardinals commit three errors and hung on for an eventual 7-5 win.
Junior Scott Schlaff went the distance on the mound in suffering his first loss of the season, dropping his record to 3-1. Schlaff gave up seven runs, only four of which were earned, while striking out five and walking one.
Offensively, the Cards looked better with 12 hits, four of which went for extra bases.
Grinnell led the way with three hits, one of which a solo home run in the fifth, and scored two runs with one RBI. Freshman Pete Vanderkolk got the start at first base and responded with a single and a triple in four at-bats, with one run scored and another driven in.
Welker and Kenney also contributed solo home runs in the game and sophomore leftfielder Brandon Fanion added an RBI single to round out the Cardinals' offensive attack.
On Sunday, the Cards fared a little better, splitting the afternoon doubleheader.
After dropping the first game 7-1, the Cardinals stormed back in the second and defeated the Chargers 14-2.
In the first game, senior Jim Kelly took the loss, bringing his record to 1-1. Kelly went 4 2/3 innings, struck out two, walked two, and gave up four runs.
Only one of the runs against Kelly was earned, though, as the Cardinals' defense again struggled, committing five more errors. In all, the team had 17 errors in the four games against Hillsdale, accounting for nine unearned runs.
"We played horrible," coach Walt Head said of the team's defensive effort over the weekend. "We just made so many errors. We were terrible in the infield."
Offensively, the Cards were led by the bats of Welker and senior rightfielder Jason Burghardt. Welker had a double and a single in three at bats and drove in the lone run while Burghardt picked up two singles.
In Game 2, the Cardinals' stagnant offense finally came alive, scoring 14 runs.
The offensive output was a balanced one, with five Cardinals getting multiple hits.
Redshirt freshman second baseman Kevin Schwedler did the most damage at the plate for the Cards, driving in four runs and scoring another.
Junior leftfielder Chris Hanna picked up three hits, scored one run, drove in one, and had a stolen base. Burghardt had a double and a single and scored twice. Freshman rightfielder Chris Hess and Grinnell also had two hits apiece.
Welker picked up another hit in the second game and drove in two more.
For the weekend, Welker drove in five runs and scored twice while picking up six hits, half of which went for extra bases.
On the mound, freshman Jon Herendeen picked up his second win of the season, going the distance and striking out eight. Herendeen gave up two earned runs and walked two.
"He threw pretty well," Head said of his young lefthander. "He was in control of the ball game."
While the Cards won the final game of the series, perhaps generating some momentum heading into the week, Head says some of his older players will be evaluated and younger players may get a chance to step in. After the 1-3 weekend against Hillsdale, Head said he was not happy with how some of his veteran players performed and would make changes if needed.
"This is the first time in 23 years that we lost three games to Hillsdale," Head said. "It doesn't sit very good with me."
The Cards record goes to 11-5 overall and 1-3 in GLIAC play. The Cards play at home tomorrow against Aquinas at 3:30 p.m. before heading to Allendale to face Grand Valley with a pair of doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday.