LOVES PARK, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team (2-8) took to the field on Sunday afternoon to face off against the Northland College Jacks (0-10). The two teams were familiar with each other as Rockford had just swept Northland this past Thursday during a doubleheader. Both teams struggled allowing walks; however, it was the Regents who were more patient at the plate as Rockford drew 13 walks and went on to win the game 9-4.
Neither team could get much going offensively at the onset of the game. Joseph Valdez (Tucson, Ariz.) did well through the first two innings as he struck out three batters and did not allow a single hit. Valdez also was able to pick off the runner at second in the top of the first inning to get the Regents out of the inning. It was not until the third inning that Northland scored and pulled ahead 1-0 on RU.
Rockford immediately answered as it scored one of its own in the bottom of the third to tie the game back up. It was an unconventional way for the Regents to score, but it was effective none the less. Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.), Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) and Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) all walked to load the bases for the Regents with no outs. With the bases loaded and Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) at the plate, the Regents capitalized on a wild pitch as Rillamas beat out the throw at home. Unfortunately, after a Hinkelman walk, RU was not able to put anything together as it stranded three runners.
Rockford started to pull away in the bottom of the third to take a 4-1 lead but did so while only recording one hit. It was the hit that got the Regents going as Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.) started the inning off doubling to left center. Next up, Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) drew a walk giving Rockford runners on first and second with no outs. Jacob Rillamas hung in tough as he wore the next pitch for RU, loading up the bases. Rockford's first run of the inning was scored as Kraemer Brandt drew a walk, advancing the runners and bringing home Waugh. This time it was a passed ball with Brett Down at the plate, that scored Saracco and put runners on second and third. Down drew a walk to load the bases for the Regents as RU led 3-1. Next up, Bryce Hinkelman hit a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Rillamas to score.
Valdez did well for the Regents to retain the lead as he only allowed two hits in the third inning before exiting the game in the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth inning the Regents scored two more runs, as walks again set them up in scoring position. With one out, Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) drew a walk and proceeded to steal second with Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) at the plate. Carlson followed suit as he walked and stole second, while Smith stole third. The catcher attempted to throw out Smith at third, but missed sending the ball into left field, allowing Smith to score on the error. Next up, Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) knocked a ball into right field, bringing home Carlson from second to put the Regents up 6-1.
Rockford kept the momentum going as it scored twice more in the bottom of the seventh to take a commanding 8-1 lead over Northland. Jacob Rillamas started things off for RU as he lasered one down the left field line, good enough for a double. One batter later, Brett Down doubled to left field and scored Rillamas. Thanks to a fielding error, Hinkelman wound up on first before Down stole third giving the Regents runners on the corners with one out. Austin Smith then hit a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Down to score.
Northland did not give up as it cut into the Rockford lead as it scored two runs of its own in the top of the eighth to make the score 8-3. Christian Dahlstrom (Clermont, Fla.) did well for the Regents as he was put into the game to pitch and got the last batter to fly out to center to end the inning.
Rockford scored its last run of the game in the bottom of the eighth as it took a 9-3 lead heading into the top of the ninth. Michael Tosado was able to reach first due to a fielding error on the third baseman. Next up, Kyle Waugh laced a single through the left side and advanced Waugh to second. Michael Gunter entered the game and grounded out but was able to advance the runners to second and third. It was Seth Sanderson who now entered the game for Rockford as he drew a walk and loaded the bases. A pass ball by the catcher allowed all the runners to advance and score Tosado on the play.
After an unearned run in the top of the ninth, Dahlstrom did well to ensure the Jacks did not get back into the game. Dahlstrom struck out the next three batters looking to end the game and earn the save for the Regents.
On the mound for the Regents it was Joseph Valdez who earned the win as he pitched 5 innings, striking out six batters and only allowed two hits. Zach Randecker (Lanark, Ill.) did well in his limited time as he pitched 2 innings, striking out three batters and only allowing a single hit. It was the freshman Christian Dahlstrom who came away with the save as he pitched 1.1 innings and had three strikeouts.
The Rockford University baseball team is scheduled to take on Augustana on Monday, March 26. First pitch is set for 6:30 PM at Rivets Stadium.