MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The Rockford University baseball team earned its first NACC sweep of the season on Saturday with a pair of impressive victories over the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors. After falling behind early in the opener, the Regents battled back to secure a 6-4 win. In game two, Rockford jumped out to an early lead and held on for the 6-5 victory.
In the opener, the Regents took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first before the Warriors responded with a four-run second. Tyler Johnson (Chicago, Ill.) began the game by reaching first on a Warrior error and then promptly stole second to put himself in scoring position. One batter later, Josh Bergbreiter (Elk Grove, Ill.) laced a single into center to score Johnson and put the Regents in front 1-0. Unfortunately the lead did not last long as the Warriors scored four runs in the bottom of the second off two hits and took advantage of one Rockford error to take a 4-1 lead.
Rockford would respond with two runs in the third and two more in the fifth to retake the lead. In both innings the Rockford offense was led by the duo of Patrick O'Malley (Elk Grove, Ill.) and Mitchell Gorsuch (Cherry Valley, Ill.). However, it was Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) who started the two-out rally in the third when he doubled down the left field line. Gorsuch then singled into left to drive in Hinkelman and cut the Warrior lead down to 4-2. One batter later, O'Malley crushed an RBI double into center field scoring Gorsuch and making it just a one-run game. The fifth inning followed a similar pattern as Gorsuch ripped a two-out RBI double into center field to tie the game at 4-4. One batter later, O'Malley gave Rockford a 5-4 lead as he laced an RBI single into left.
In the eighth Rockford would manufacture an insurance run despite not recording a hit in the inning. Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) began the frame with walk and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Carlson would score two batters later on a WLC throwing error giving Rockford a 6-4 lead.
Six runs was more than enough for a Rockford pitching staff that was brilliant for the majority of the game. Starting pitcher Joseph Valdez (Tucson, Ariz.) improved to 4-1 on the season as he fired 7 strong innings allowing just 4 hits and 3 earned runs while striking out 5. Valdez was especially effective over his final five innings of work allowing just hits. Junior Thomas Bolen (Tucson, Ariz.) would take it the remainder of the way throwing a perfect final two innings. Bolen retired all six batters he faced including striking out the side the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Game two had a bit of a different feel to it as this time it was the Regents who jumped out to a big lead. Once again Tyler Jonson reached base to begin the game, this time with a single into center field. Johnson would then advance to second on a bunt before stealing third to put himself in prime scoring position with just one out. Senior Cole Logemann (Lena, Ill.) then drove in his first run of the day with an RBI single to short to put the Regents out in front 1-0 after one inning of play.
Rockford extended its lead to 5-0 with a two-run third and fourth inning. Josh Bergbreiter started the hit parade in the third with a one-out single. One batter later, Cole Logemann doubled to center to drive in his second run of the game. Rockford's final run in the inning came off the bat of Patrick O'Malley who singled into right, scoring Logemann and giving Rockford a 3-0 advantage. In the fifth, a WLC error allowed Rockford's leadoff runner to reach base and would eventually lead to a pair of runs. Following the error and a sacrifice bunt, Tyler Johnson drove in his first run of the day with a one-out RBI single. After a Logemann walk and a Johnson stolen base, Hinkelman made it a 5-0 Rockford lead with an RBI single.
However this would not be an easy win for the Regents as the Warriors made things very interesting over the next three innings. Wisconsin Lutheran answered Rockford's two-run fourth with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to pull within three at 5-2. Fortunately Rockford responded in the top of the fifth with a run of its own when Britton Seivert (Rockford, Ill.) crushed his fourth double of the season to score Carlson and put the Regents in front 6-2. Unfortunately just like in the previous inning, the Warriors answered right back with two more runs making it a 6-4 game. Things would get even closer in the sixth when Wisconsin Lutheran scored a run off a Rockford error to make it a one-run game. However, the Regent pitching staff buckled down from that moment forward shutting out the Warrior offense over the final three innings to secure a 6-5 win.
The Regents used a combination of four pitchers in game two to secure the sweep. Starter Dalton Morris (Somonauk, Ill.) threw five innings allowing three runs off five hits and striking out a career-high 6 batters to earn his first collegiate win. Chad Thompson (Morton Grove, Ill.) and Ben Kolkmeyer (Belvidere, Ill.) combined to throw the next 1.1 innings before turning the ball over to Spencer Lentz (Stillman Valley, Ill.). Lentz fired the final 2.2 innings allowing no runs or hits, while striking out two to earn his first save of the season.
The RU baseball team returns to the field on Sunday, April 9 against Aurora University. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for noon at Rivets Stadium.