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Regents Sweep Stars to Open NACC Play

Brett Down
Brett Down

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team (6-8, 2-0 NACC) opened NACC play on Saturday with a pair of impressive road wins, 4-1 and 7-3, over the Dominican University Stars (9-7, 0-2 NACC). The Regents were in control for nearly the entire day as the Stars only led for a half an inning in each of two the games. Both times Dominican took the lead, the Regents answered right back in the next half inning with a pair of runs to jump in front. In each case, Rockford would hold Dominican scoreless for the remainder of the game to secure the regular season series sweep over the Stars for the first time since the 2015 season. The Regents have now won six straight games after starting the season 0-8. Rockford's six-game winning streak is the longest since the 2013 season when the Regents won eight straight games. 

Senior starting pitcher Spencer Lentz (Stillman Valley, Ill.) was outstanding on the mound in the opener as he picked up the win to improve to 2-1 this year. He fired seven strong innings, allowing just one run while striking out four. Lentz cruised through much of his start, retiring seven straight batters at one point. On the couple of occasions where he found himself in tight spots, the left-hander dug deep and worked his way out of the jams. In the first with runners on first and second, Lentz induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and the Dominican threat. Then in the seventh, Lentz again found himself in a bit of trouble, as the bases were loaded with just one out. He would once again come through as he retired the next two batters and escaped unscathed. 

The bullpen would take it the rest of the way, shutting out the Stars over the final two innings. Thomas Bolen (Tucson, Ariz.) went the first 1.1 innings before turning it over to Joseph Kmiec (Bolingbrook, Ill.) and Christian Dahlstrom (Clermont, Fla.) in the ninth. Dahlstrom would enter the game and strike out the final batter, to secure the win and record his third save in the last three games. 

Offensively it was tough sledding for much of the game as the Regents and Stars were locked in a 0-0 tie through five innings. After Dominican broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth, Rockford answered right back with two runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead. Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) and John Mareks (Tucson, Ariz.) got things started with back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on first and second. Two batters later, sophomore Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) came through with a clutch two-run single into right, scoring both Tosado and Mareks and giving Rockford its first lead of the day at 2-1. 

Rockford would add single runs in both the eighth and the ninth to give itself some breathing room. In the eighth it was Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) who jump-started the offense with a leadoff double, his second of the game. Two batters later, Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) laced an RBI single into right, scoring Down, and extending the Regents' lead to 3-1. Rockford would add an additional run in the ninth off a trio of singles. Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) and Brett Down got things started with back-to-back one-out singles. A couple of batters later, it was again Austin Smith who stepped up with a clutch two-out RBI single, his second in as many innings. That's all the bullpen would need as the Regents held the Stars scoreless in the bottom half of the frame to secure the 4-1 win. 

Despite only scoring four runs, Rockford hit the ball extremely well in game one with 12 hits as a team. Brett Down led Rockford going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored. Austin Smith finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Kraemer Brandt also had two hits and Jacob Rillamas drove in a pair of runs. 

The Rockford offense picked up in game two right where it left off, scoring all seven of its runs in the first five innings. The Regents would jump out to a quick 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the top of the first. Brett Down and Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) strung together back-to-back doubles, with Hinkelman driving in Down to put Rockford in front 1-0. Following a groundout, senior Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) drove in Down with an RBI single to extend the Regents' lead to 2-0. However, the Stars responded with a run in the bottom half of the first and two more in the third to take a 3-2 lead. Fortunately Rockford wasted little time answering back with a pair of runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth. Michael Tosado drove in the first run of the third with a double to right center to tie the game at 3-3. One batter later, Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) gave the Regents a 4-3 lead with an RBI groundout. Rockford would then string together four hits in the fifth to score three additional runs. Brett Down once again got things started with his fourth double of the day. Following a flyout and a walk, Rockford used back-to-back-to-back two-out RBI singles off the bats of Chris Carlson, Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.) and Michael Tosado to make it a 7-3 Rockford advantage. 

That is all the runs the Regents would need as the entire RU pitching staff was excellent in the nightcap. Starter Zachary Jones (Rockford, Ill.) improved to 3-1 this season with 6.1 innings of solid work on the mound. Jones allowed just two earned runs during his start, while striking out six and walking one. Jones would turn the game over in the sixth to Joseph Kmiec who tossed the final 2.2 innings to earn his first save of the season. Kmiec allowed no runs on just two hits, while striking out four, including the final two hitters of the game.

Offensively the Regents pounded out 14 hits and had four players record multi-hit games. Brett Down went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored. Chris Carlson finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Michael Tosado also had a trio of hits, going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs driven in. Corey Saracco was the final Regent with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI.

The RU baseball team returns home on Monday, April 2 for a doubleheader against Concordia Wisconsin. First pitch is set for 1 PM at Rivets Stadium.