VERONA, Wis. - The Rockford University baseball team (8-17, 2-10 NACC) split its regular season series, 4-3 and 5-4, on the road Saturday afternoon against the Edgewood College Eagles (7-20, 4-10 NACC). Rockford won the opener 4-3 behind a strong pitching performance from junior right-hander Zack Jones (Rockford, Ill.) and timely offense. Offensively, the Regents scored a run in the first, third, sixth and the game-winning run in the ninth. Jones took care of the rest, throwing his NACC leading third complete game of the season and striking out a career-high 13 batters to secure the win. Game two had a different feel to it as the Regents fell behind 4-1 after five innings. The Regents were able to pull back to within a single run, but the comeback effort came up just short, as Rockford fell 5-4.
Rockford University 4 Edgewood College 3
- The Regents scored a single run in the top of the first despite not recording a hit in the inning. Rockford used a pair of walks and a pair of stolen bases by Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) to put runners on second and third with one out. One batter later, Michael Gunter (Maricopa, Ariz.) drove in the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly to center field.
- Rockford would extend its lead to 2-0 with a single run in the top of the third inning. Hunter Fiorito (Batavia, Ill.) began the inning with a walk and then stole second and third to put himself in scoring position with just one out. Senior Michael Gunter followed with an RBI single, to score Fiorito and give his team a two-run lead.
- The Eagles would cut the Regent lead in half with an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth. Edgewood used two hits and took advantage of one Rockford error to make it a 2-1 game.
- Rockford was able to get the run back in the top of the sixth inning. Christian Garcia (Maricopa, Ariz.) began the inning with single and then worked his way over to third base after a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. Shortstop Troy Tucci (Wood Dale, Ill.) followed with an RBI single to put his team in front 3-1.
- Three runs seemed as though it would be more than enough for RU starting pitcher Zack Jones. After allowing the unearned run in the fourth, Jones retired 11 of the next 12 batters, six of which were strikeouts. Jones actually faced the minimum number of batters over that span, as the only person to reach base was promptly picked off.
- However, Edgewood was able to string together two hits and a walk in the bottom of the eighth to score a pair of runs and tie the game at 3-3.
- Fortunately, Rockford responded with a run of its own in the top of the ninth. Cristian Bermeo (Chicago, Ill.) was hit by a pitch and then advanced to second on a wild pitch to begin the inning. One batter later, Bermeo would score on an error by the Edgewood pitcher to put his team back in front 4-3.
- Zack Jones would then retire the side in order in bottom of the ninth to secure the win.
Edgewood College 5 Rockford University 4
- Game two started in a similar fashion to game one, with Rockford taking a quick 1-0 lead after the top of the first inning. Hunter Fiorito led off the game with a single. The Regents would then load the bases following a pair of walks by Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) and Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.). One batter later, Fiorito scored the game's first run on a wild pitch.
- The Eagles responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the first to tie the game.
- Edgewood then added another run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take its largest lead of the day at 4-1.
- The Regents would cut into the lead with a single run in the top of the sixth. Rockford loaded the bases with no one out following a wild pitch on a strikeout, a hit batsman and a Cristian Bermeo infield single. One batter later, Dylan Johnson (Rockford, Ill.) drove in the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to right field. Unfortunately, Rockford left the bases loaded, as the Eagles retired two of the next three batters to limit the damage to just one run.
- The Eagles answered back with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Edgewood used one hit and took advantage of a Rockford error to score an unearned run and extend their lead back to three at 5-2.
- Rockford was able to make things interesting with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Troy Tucci got things started with a one-out single back up the middle. One batter later, Hunter Fiorito crushed a two-run home run over the left field wall to pull his team back within one, at 5-4.
- The Regents had one final chance to tie or take the lead in the top of the ninth inning. Kyle Waugh and Christian Garcia reached base via a walk and a single to put runners on first and second with one out. However, the Eagles retired the next two batters wiggle out of the jam and escape with a 5-4 win.
- Zack Jones threw his NACC leading third complete game of the season. Jones allowed two earned runs off seven hits and struck out a career-high 13 over his nine innings of work. The junior right-hander currently leads the NACC in complete games (3) and strikeouts (59). He is fourth in wins (4), innings pitched (47.1) and earned run average (1.90) and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.22).
- Michael Gunter went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
- Troy Tucci was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
- Hunter Fiorito finished a perfect 4-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored. Fiorito is currently second in the NACC in hits (44), third in batting average (.407), fifth in at bats (108), sixth in stolen bases (14), seventh in doubles (8), ninth in runs scored (27) and tenth in slugging percentage (.546) and triples (2).
- Christian Garcia went 2-for-3.
- Doug Murphey (Fox Lake, Ill.) and Christian Pearcy (Tucson, Ariz.) combined to throw the final two innings of the game. The duo allowed just one hit and struck out one.
The RU baseball team returns to the diamond on Monday, April 22 at home against Marian University. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for noon at Rivets Stadium.