LOVES PARK, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team (14-16, 8-5 NACC) faced off against the Wisconsin Lutheran Warriors (10-21, 7-9 NACC) on Saturday afternoon as RU honored its seniors. Those seniors being honored were Thomas Bolen (Tucson, Ariz.), Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.), Nathan Burris (Oglesby, Ill.), Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.), Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.), Spencer Lentz (Stillman Valley, Ill.), Dalton Morris (Somonauk, Ill.), Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) and Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.). It was a tale of two games on Saturday as Wisconsin Lutheran took game one by a score of 8-4 before Rockford flipped the script and won game two by a score of 8-4. With Rockford's split on Saturday it currently sits in third place in the NACC standings.
In game one the Warriors got out to an early lead as it jumped out to a 6-0 lead after scoring three runs in the first, two in the second, and one in the fourth. WLC would tally two more runs to increase its lead to 8-0 in the top of the fifth before Rockford could scratch the surface.
Rockford finally got its bats going in the bottom of the fifth as it scored two runs to bring the score to 8-2. With one out, Chris Carlson knocked one through the left side to give Rockford a runner on first. Michael Tosado would end up reaching first on fielder's choice, however, Carlson would be out at second. Next up with two outs, Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.) smashed an RBI triple to right field. Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) kept some momentum going as he singled through the left side, which was good enough to bring Waugh home. Unfortunately, for Rockford it left three runners on base at the end of the inning.
The Regents did well to keep some momentum on their side as they scored one more run in the sixth as Carlson again got things going singling to center field with two outs on the board. Carlson eventually moved around the bases and wound up on third with Michael Tosado at the plate. Tosado just barely missed hitting a home run as his ball hit the right field wall. Tosado earned a double as Carlson safely trotted home making it an 8-3 game.
Rockford had its final chance to comeback in the bottom of the ninth when Waugh singled with two outs to give the Regents some life. Seth Sanderson (Fulton, Ill.) entered the game to pinch run for Waugh and advanced to second after Jacob Rillamas was hit by a pitch. John Mareks (Tucson, Ariz.) stepped to the plate to pinch hit and did well as he laced a double down the left field line to score Sanderson and advance Rillamas to third. Unfortunately, it was as far as Rockford could come as it left two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth to fall to the Warriors by a final score of 8-4.
Christian Dahlstrom (Clermont, Fla.) did well on the mound for RU as he came in to pitch the final 2.1 innings and did not give up a hit while striking out four batters, with two of those looking.
In game one Rockford was led by the duo of Chris Carlson and Kyle Waugh. Senior Chris Carlson finished 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Waugh also finished 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored. John Mareks and Michael Tosado both did well recording a double and an RBI.
In game two it seemed as if it was going to be the same story as the Warriors opened up with a 2-0 lead to start the top of the first.
This time the Regents were ready to rally as they answered with two runs of their own to knot the game up at 2-2. Kraemer Brandt led off by drawing a walk for Rockford. Some miscues and walks by the Warriors gave the Regents Brandt on third, Brett Down on second and Bryce Hinkelman on first. Austin Smith did well has he knocked an RBI single into center field to bring Rockford within one. Next up, Chris Carlson brought his hitting from game one into game two as he hit one through the right side, to score Down and give Rockford early signs of life.
Sophomore Zachary Jones played extremely well on the rubber for Rockford as he retired 13 straight batters ranging from the second to the sixth inning, with three of his four strikeouts coming during that span.
Rockford used the defensive momentum from Jones to put it together on offense in the bottom of the fifth. Hinkelman started the inning off by showing his patience and drawing a walk. One batter latter, Carlson smashed one down the right field line that turned into a ground-rule double and advanced Hinkelman to third. Michael Tosado did well as he laced one back up the middle to score both runners and take a 4-2 lead over WLC.
Rockford gave up a run in the seventh as the Warriors cut it to one-run game, before the Regents would get it right back in the bottom of the frame and regain its two-run lead. Brett Down did well as he laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line before stealing and getting to second. Hinkelman would then wear a pitch and give Rockford runners on first and second. Austin Smith took notes from Down and laid down a perfect bunt of his own for the Regents to load the bases for Rockford. Carlson did well to bring a runner home as he hit a sacrifice fly to right field as Down scored.
The Regents carried that momentum into the bottom of the third as they tallied three more runs to take an 8-3 lead. Jacob Rillamas started things off knocking a single into left field. The bunts continued for RU as Kraemer Brandt laid down a nice bunt toward first to get safe and send Rillamas to second. A fielder's choice put Brett Down at first with Kraemer Brandt advancing to second. Both runners would steal before Hinkelman would walk to load the bases for RU with one out. Austin Smith smashed a single to center field that sent Brandt and Down home. One out later Hinkelman would advance on a wild pitch to give Rockford runners on the corners with two outs. Next up, Michael Tosado hit an RBI single toward the shortstop as Hinkelman raced home.
The Warriors would attempt to mount a comeback as they scored one run in the ninth but Christian Dahlstrom kept them at bay as the Regents went on to win game two by a score of 8-4. Dahlstrom chalked up his recorded setting seventh save during the season.
There were four Rockford players to record at least two hits in game two. Senior's Austin Smith and Michael Tosado each went 3-for-5 from the plate while both chalking up 3 RBIs. Jacob Rillamas did well hitting as he finished 3-for-4 in game two. Chris Carlson went 2-for-4 with a double, a sacrifice fly, 2 RBIs and a run scored.
The Rockford University baseball team gets right back to action as it travels to face off against the #10 ranked Concordia University of Chicago Cougars on Sunday, April 29. First pitch is set for noon.