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Baseball Sweeps Northland in Home Opener

Zachary Jones
Zachary Jones

LOVES PARK, Ill - The Rockford University baseball team (2-8) took to the field Thursday to face off against the Northland College Jacks (0-8). Rockford looked to get things going early in the season and did just that as the Regents handled the Jacks 7-0 in game one and 9-0 in game two. 

It did not take long for Rockford to get its bats going as the Regents scored five runs in the bottom of the second to take an early 5-0 lead. Senior Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) started RU off as he opened the inning singling through the right side. Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) reached on a fielder's choice, however, the Jacks made a throwing error allowing Carlson to be safe at second and then take third due to the error. Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.) stepped to the plate next with runners on the corners with no outs and did not disappoint. Waugh doubled, smacking one into center field scoring Carlson and Tosado. Rockford would have a runner on second with one out, up 2-0. The Regents were not done yet as one batter later Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) singled through the right side advancing Waugh to third and giving RU runners on the corners with two outs. With Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) at the plate, Rillamas received the steal sign and executed it perfect, advancing to second. Brandt then singled to left field loading the bases for Rockford. Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) handled the pressure as he double to left field, scoring Waugh and Kraemer, while advancing Brandt to third. Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) did his job as he recorded an RBI bringing home Brandt, giving the Regents a 5-0 lead. 

Senior Spencer Lentz (Stillman Valley, Ill.) did a nice job of continuing Rockford's momentum as he did not allow a hit  in the top of the third. In the bottom of third for the Regents it was Carlson again who got things going as he was walked. Thanks to a wild pitch, Carlson took second giving the Regents a runner on second with no outs. One batter later, it was Waugh again who came through for RU as he singled through the left side bringing home Carlson, who had advanced to third during the previous at bat.  Unfortunately, that was all Rockford could muster up in the inning, bringing its lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the third. 

It would be the bottom of the fifth inning that Rockford would earn its final run of the game. As he had done all day, Kyle Waugh singled up the middle to start the inning. One batter later, Waugh advanced to second due to a wild pitch. Jacob Rillamas exhibited his patience at the plate as he walked, giving Rockford runners on first and second with no outs. A few batters later, Bryce Hinkelman stepped to the plate facing bases loaded with two outs and delivered for RU as he singled to the short stop and brought Waugh home. 

Rockford did not relinquish its lead as seniors Spencer Lentz and Dalton Morris (Somonauk, Ill.) did a great job holding the Northland batters at bay, as they combined for a shutout. Lentz was impressive as he only allowed four hits through seven innings of play, while striking out eight batters. 

Rockford had many players contribute on the offensive end as 6 of the 12 batters had at least two hits. Kyle Waugh played phenomenal as he recorded a hit every time he stepped to the plate. Waugh went 5-for-5 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs. Bryce Hinkelman and Brett Down each went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs, while Down also recorded a double. Jacob Rillamas did well making the most of his plate appearances as he went 2-for-3 in game one. 

Game two opened similar to game one, except the Regents decided to score five runs in the bottom of the first inning this time to open up with a 5-0 lead. Kraemer Brandt started the game as he singled to left. Next up, Brett Down followed suit singling through the left side giving Rockford runners on first and second with no outs. Bryce Hinkelman earned a walk loading the bases for Austin Smith. Smith wore one for his team as he was hit by a pitch, keeping the bases loaded while scoring Brandt. One batter later, Michael Tosado laced a single down the right field line that scored Down. John Mareks (Tucson, Ariz.) and Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) each singled back-to-back bringing runners home to make it a 4-0 game with one out and bases still loaded. Rillamas grounded out but recorded and RBI as Tosado scored on the play. 

Rockford picked up where it left off as it continued with its bats in the bottom of the second. Brett Down got things started as he crushed a triple to center. Hinkelman stepped to the plate next and brought home Down with a sacrifice fly to right field. Austin Smith singled to the shortstop during his at bat, giving the Regents one on with one out. One batter later, Smith stole second and Tosado made the Jacks pay as he singled to right field and advanced to second when the right fielder attempted to throw out Smith who ended up scoring. Tosado made the most of a slip up by Northland as he advanced to third on the throwing error. Rockford entered the top of the third with a 7-0 lead over the Jacks. 

It would not be until the bottom of the sixth inning that Rockford scored its final two runs of the game. With one out, Austin Smith continued to hit well as he smoked one to right center, good enough for a double. Next up, Chris Carlson singled to center and advanced Smith to third giving Rockford runners on the corners with one out. Tosado proceeded to score Smith on a sacrifice fly to center field. Mareks kept it going as he doubled knocking it to right center and scoring Carlson. 

Rockford took care of its job on the defensive end and closed out the game without giving the Jacks a glimmer of hope. Sophomore Zachary Jones (Rockford, Ill.) was superb on the mound for RU. Jones went seven innings and only allowed two hits while striking out seven batters. Fellow sophomore Joseph Kmiec (Bolingbrook, Ill.) finished off the game as he entered in the top of the eighth to keep the shutout alive. Kmiec pitched the final two innings while striking out 5 batters and only allowing one hit during that span. 

On the offensive side 6-of-11 batters for Rockford finished with two or more hits during game two. Austin Smith led the way for RU as he went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a double. Michael Tosado led the team in RBI's with three while going 2-for-3. John Mareks went 2-for-4 from the plate and recorded two RBIs and a double. 

The Rockford University baseball team is scheduled to host Augustana on Saturday, March 24. First pitch is set for 1:00 PM at Rivets Stadium.