ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team heads into the final weekend of the regular season with a lot on the line when the Regents hit the road to face the Lakeland University Muskies. Rockford heads into its doubleheader at Lakeland with a 9-9 NACC record and is just one game out of the final spot in the NACC Tournament. The most likely scenarios for Rockford earning a spot in the conference tournament include the Regents winning both of their games against the Muskies, and then either Benedictine, MSOE or Concordia Wisconsin going 1-3 in their four games this weekend or Marian going 0-2 on Saturday.
Rockford's main focus of the weekend is preparing for a dangerous Lakeland University team. Although the Regents are 18-4 in NACC play against the Muskies, Rockford and Lakeland have split three of the last four series including each of the last two played at Lakeland. Rockford should have an advantage offensively as the Regents are hitting .285, which is the fourth highest batting average in the NACC, while the Muskies rank last in the NACC with a 9.11 earned run average. Additionally, the Regents have averaged exactly 7 runs per game over the last ten meetings compared to just 3.3 runs per game for the Muskies. Individually the Regents have multiple players that have had a great season thus far at the plate, led by senior Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.). Smith leads the Regents in batting average (.333), is fourth in the NACC in RBIs (32), sixth in the NACC in hits (47) and eighth in doubles (10). He has also tallied 14 multi-hit games this season including five three-hit performances. The RU pitching staff also should have an edge over the Muskie offense. Rockford currently leads the NACC with 278 strikeouts and is seventh with a 4.74 earned run average, while Lakeland ranks ninth with a .251 batting average. Individually on the mound Rockford is led by sophomore Zachary Jones (Rockford, Ill.). Jones ranks in the top five in the conference in multiple categories. The right-hander is second in the NACC in wins (6), third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.15), fifth in total strikeouts (53) and fifth in earned run average amongst pitchers with at least seven starts (3.06).
First pitch of the doubleheader is set for noon at Lakeland University.