LOVES PARK, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team (10-10) faced off against the Maranatha Baptist University Sabercats (0-12) on Friday afternoon. Rockford had some time off due to the weather but came back strong as RU took down Maranatha 9-0 in game one and followed up with a 14-1 win in game two. With the victory in the second game, head coach Bob Koopman recorded his 250th win at Rockford University.
Rockford started out hot in game one as it leaped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Thanks to a few walks and an error to start off the game the bases were loaded with one out with Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) up to bat. Carlson reached first on fielder's choice that drove in Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.), while another error by the Sabercats allowed Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) to advance home and give Rockford the early lead.
The Regents struck again in the bottom of the third when they recorded two more runs to increase their lead to four. With one out Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) started things off as he singled into left field. Chris Carlson followed with a single of his own to right field that advanced Smith to second. Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) knocked one through the left side good enough to bring Smith all the way around the bases and send Carlson to third. With John Mareks (Tucson, Ariz.) at the plate, Tosado received the steal sign and gave Rockford runners on second and third with one out. Mareks then hit a sacrifice fly out to center field to score Carlson.
In the bottom of the fourth the Regents kept the bats going as they scored three more runs to make it a 7-0 game. Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) started the inning off wearing a pitch and taking first base. Brandt knocked a nice single into center to give Rockford runners on first and second with no outs. Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) followed as he crushed a double into right center as Rillamas scored and Brandt reached third. Bryce Hinkelman did well to put runs on the board as he hit sacrifice fly into center field advancing Down to third and bringing home Brandt. One batter latter, Down reached home due to a fielding error by the shortstop.
The final runs for Rockford occurred in the bottom of the sixth as RU scored two more runs to make it a 9-0 game. After Nathan Burris (Oglesby, Ill.) walked, and Seth Sanderson (Fulton, Ill.) was hit by a pitch, Rockford had runners on first and second with no outs. One batter latter, Austin Smith stepped to the plate and lined a single to left field with runners on the corners that brought home Burris and advance Sanderson to second. Michael Gunter (Maricopa, Ariz.) entered the game as a pinch hitter and earned a walk to load the bases for Michael Tosado. Tosado got a piece of it but it would go down as a sacrifice fly to right field as Sanderson scored.
On the mound for the Regents in game one was sophomore Zach Randecker (Lanark, Ill.). Randecker was the first pitcher for Rockford to record a complete game on the year and did it in winning fashion. The sophomore played exceptionally well in his first career win. Through seven innings Randecker pitched a shutout while only allowing three hits and striking out an impressive 11 batters with four of them looking.
Offensively Rockford was led by the duo of Michael Tosado and Austin Smith. Tosado and Smith each finished game one going 2-for-3 from the plate, while Tosado tallied 2 RBIs and Smith chalked up one of his own.
In game two in was Maranatha who struck first as the Sabercats opened the first inning with a 1-0 lead.
However, it did not take long for the Regents to answer as they responded with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Brett Down drew a walk for Rockford. Austin Smith then batted a single into left field to advance Down to second. With Chris Carlson at the plate Down stole third to give RU runners on the corners. Carlson then walked and gave Rockford bases loaded with one out. Kyle Waugh came through with a big bat for Rockford as he singled hard through the left side that was good enough to bring both Down and Smith home.
Come the third inning Rockford tallied two more runs in the bottom of the frame to extend the lead to 4-1. Bryce Hinkelman started the inning off by showing his patience and drawing a walk. Austin Smith continued to hit well as he laced a single to left field to give Rockford runners on first and second. After the next batter flew out, advancing Smith and Hinkelman, it was Waugh up at the plate. Thanks to a passed ball Hinkelman would score and Smith advanced to third. Waugh then hit a single in the gap into right field to score Smith.
Rockford did not stop there as they continued to pour on the runs tallying three in the fifth and seven in the sixth. A combination of hits and errors allowed the Regents to score in the fifth as Chris Carlson recorded a double as he cranked it into right field, while Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) and Christian Garcia (Maricopa, Ariz.) each earned an RBI during their at bat. In the sixth inning Brandt, Down, Hinkelman and Saracco all tallied singles while walks and errors helped give the Regents runs.
It was another career first from the pitching staff in the second game as junior Doug Murphey (Fox Lake, Ill.) registered his first career start and win. Murphey did well as he pitched 5.2 innings, only allowing two hits and a run while retiring two batters with one looking. Freshman pitcher Christian Dahlstrom (Clermont, Fla.) did well as he has all season, entering the game in the final inning. Dahlstrom took down the first batter swinging before getting the second to pop up to Austin Smith at shortstop. With the last out of the game Dahlstrom retired the batter swinging.
In game two the Regents had four batters with two hits. Kyle Waugh led the way as he went a perfect 2-for-2 from the plate with 3 RBIs. Austin Smith hit well as he went 2-of-3 in game two. Kramer Brandt went 2-for-3, while Corey Saracco went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs.
The Rockford University baseball team will have a tough road ahead with very little breaks as RU gets right back to action on Saturday, April 21 as it hosts Edgewood at Rivets Stadium. First pitch is set for noon.