LOVES PARK, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team (13-13, 7-4 NACC) faced off against a strong Benedictine University Eagles team (16-9, 7-3) on Tuesday afternoon. Pitching was key for the Regents in their game one win as was a bevy of hits including a grand slam that helped lift Rockford over Benedictine. In game two it was a different story as both teams strung together double-digit hits, however, it was Benedictine who would make the most of them as the Eagles won game by a score of 11-2.
In game one the Regents started out as about as perfect as they could. Rockford held Benedictine scoreless in the top of the first inning before exploding in the bottom half of the frame. Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) got the party started as he dropped one over the left side of the infield for a single. Two batters later, Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) knocked one through the left side to advance Brandt to second. Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) kept it going as he hit a single into right field to load the bases with two outs for Rockford. Next, Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) reached on a fielder's choice as Carlson beat out the play at second and the runners moved around the bases to make it 1-0. On the very next play Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.) sent a first-pitch fast ball soaring over the left field wall for a grand slam to increase the lead to 5-0.
After a quick inning of work again from the Rockford pitching, the Regent offense got right back to where they left off. Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) got the inning started as he smacked a double down the left field line. Next up, Brandt would lay down a nice sacrifice bunt to advance Rillamas into scoring position. Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) made sure Rillamas could trot home as Down sent the ball to left center and raced around the bases for a triple. On the very next batter, Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) grounded out to the third baseman but did his job picking up an RBI as Down scored on the play. Rockford headed into the top of the third with a commanding 7-0 lead.
Joseph Kmiec (Bolingbrook, Ill.) was cooking on the mound for RU in game one. Through four innings Kmiec held the BenU offense scoreless, allowing only two hits and striking out two.
Unfortunately, due to an error that would have ended the inning in the fifth, the Eagles offense caught life. Benedictine went on to make Rockford pay for its mistake as the Eagles scored three unearned runs in the top of the of the fifth to cut into the Rockford lead and make it a 7-3 game. The Eagles scored one more run in the top of the seventh to make it a 7-4 game.
In came freshman Christian Dahlstrom (Clermont, Fla.) who has been as clutch of a closer as Rockford could ask for on the year. Dahlstrom allowed only two hits since entering in the seventh inning of the game, while retiring two batters. The freshman pitcher did enough to secure the 7-4 win for the Regents. Dahlstrom has been perfect in save attempts this year and with his save against Benedictine he has set the record for most saves in a season for Rockford with six.
Joseph Kmiec did well to earn his first win of the season on the mound as he pitched 6.1 innings, while only giving up one earned run, to go along with two strikeouts.
On offense the Regents were led by Kyle Waugh who gave Rockford the edge with a monstrous grand slam in the bottom of the first inning. Brett Down did well as he tallied an RBI to go along with a triple. Bryce Hinkelman and Michael Tosado each ended game one with an RBI of their own.
In game two it was another story as Benedictine came out hitting the ball and making the most off errors as the Eagles jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Rockford did not back down as Brett Down hit his second triple of the day, this time coming in game two with one out. Next up, Bryce Hinkelman did his part to put a run on the board for Rockford as he hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Down and make it 3-1.
Zach Randecker (Lanark, Ill.) did well in the top of the second to keep momentum with Rockford as he went three-up-three-down. In the bottom half of the frame with two outs, Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) joined the party as he crushed a triple into right field. Jacob Rillamas then reached first on an error by the shortstop, allowing Saracco to score and make it a 3-2 game.
Unfortunately, Benedictine would get those two runs back in the top of the third to take a 5-2 lead. The scoring did not stop there for the Eagles as they went on to score three runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh to extend their lead and eventually go on to win by a score of 11-2.
It was not for a lack of hits for the Regents as Rockford tallied 11 hits in game two, however RU also left 10 runners on base throughout the game.
The pitching was good for the Regents in game two despite the score, as there were only three earned runs in the game. Zach Randecker finished after throwing 2.2 innings, striking out two batters and only allowing two earned runs. Clay Goodwin (St. Francisville, Ill.) pitched 2.1 innings while striking out one batter and allowing no earned runs. Jake Schmollinger (Peru, Ill.) did well finishing off the final two innings while not giving up a hit and retiring two batters.
On offense for Rockford in game two there were three players who recorded two hits. Corey Saracco led the way going 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored. Austin Smith and Chris Carlson each went 2-for-4 in the game. Brett Down finished with a triple and run scored.
The Rockford University baseball team continues its string of games as it hosts the University of Chicago on Wednesday, April 25. First pitch is set for 6 PM.