TUCSON, Ariz. - The Rockford University baseball team (0-3) fell 11-2 on Sunday afternoon to Concordia University Nebraska (4-3). Rockford struggled to find its rhythm offensively as the Regents were only able to muster 2 runs on 5 hits, compared to 11 runs off 12 hits for the Bulldogs. Despite what the final stats might indicate, the game was actually a pitcher's duel for most of the afternoon. However, that would change when Concordia scored four unearned runs in the sixth and three more runs in the seventh en route to the victory.
Rockford starting pitcher Zachary Jones (Rockford, Ill.) threw very well in his first collegiate start. After surrendering two quick runs in the top of the first, Jones began to settle in and did not allow another run for the remainder of his start. He was able to wiggle out of a bases loaded jam in the second with back-to-back strikeouts and a fielder's choice to end the threat. Jones then retired the next six batters for a total of nine straight heading into the fifth inning. In the fifth, he would escape his second jam of the game, thanks in large part to an outstanding 543 double play started by Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) at third base. His day would come to an end two batters later, when Jones induced a flyout to left to keep it a 2-1 game after five innings of play. In his first collegaite outing, Jones went five strong innings allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 4.
The Regents first run of the day came in the bottom of the second thanks to timely hitting and effective base running. Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) began the inning with a single to center field to give Rockford its first hit of the game. Smith would then steal second base and score three batters later on a Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) single back up the middle to cut the Bulldogs' lead down to just one, at 2-1.
Unfortunately things began to unravel over the final four innings of play. Concordia Nebraska scored four unearned runs in the top of the sixth, followed by three more runs in the seventh to take a commanding 9-1 lead. The Bulldogs would add an additional run in both the eighth and ninth innings to extend their lead to 11-1.
Rockford would respond with one final run in the bottom half of the ninth. It was again senior Austin Smith who got the two-out rally started, this time with a walk. Smith would then advance to second on a wild pitch and score off a Christian Garcia (Maricopa, Ariz.) single into left to field. However it was not enough, as Rockford fell by a final score of 11-2.
Despite all the runs, Rockford did get another excellent outing from a member of its bullpen. Freshman Clay Goodwin (St. Francisville, Ill.) pitched two strong innings allowing just one hit and one unearned run, while striking out four.
The RU baseball team returns to action on Monday, March 5 in Tucson, Arizona against Carthage College. First pitch is set for 5 PM.