TUCSON, Ariz. - The Rockford University baseball team (0-4) came up just short in an extremely high-scoring 13-10 game on Monday against the Carthage College Red Men (2-2). Monday's game was the definition of a slugfest as it featured 29 hits combined including 12 extra base hits. Unfortunately it was again the big inning that hurt Rockford as Carthage scored 12 of its 13 runs in just three innings. The Red Men put up three in the second, five in the fourth and four in the fifth en route to the win.
Following a scoreless first, both the Regents and the Red Men scratched across at least one run in the second. Carthage got on the board first in the top half of the inning with a three-run home run to take an early 3-0 lead. Fortunately the Regents were able to respond with a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Rockford began the inning by taking advantage of a Carthage error, which put a runner in scoring position with no one out. A few batters later, Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) laced an RBI single into center to cut the Carthage lead to just two at 3-1.
Rockford continued to build upon its momentum the very next inning as it scored four runs in the bottom half of the third to take its first lead of the day. Each of the first three batters in the inning reached base safely thanks to a hit batsman and back-to-back walks to load the bases with no one out. Senior Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) then drove in the first run of the frame on an infield single in the hole at shortstop. Fellow senior Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) followed suit with a two-run double down the right field line to put the Regents on top for the first time in the game at 4-3. Rockford would add one more run in the inning when Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) drove in Hinkelman on an RBI groundout to make it a 5-3 game after 3 innings.
Unfortunately the lead did not last long as Carthage took advantage of two Rockford errors to score five unearned runs and retake the lead at 8-5. Rockford was able to respond with a solo run in the bottom half of the frame to pull back within two. The Regents again loaded the bases with no one out after a Nathan Burris (Oglesby, Ill.) walk, a Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) single and Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) getting hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Hinkelman singled into left to score Burris and cut into the Carthage lead. However, the Regents were unable to push any more runs across as Rockford had a runner get thrown out at the plate on an excellent throw by the Carthage left fielder.
The Red Men then built upon their lead the very next inning with four more runs. Carthage took advantage of two more Rockford errors in the frame to extend their advantage to 12-6.
Despite the large deficit, the Regents never quit as they scored a run in the fifth, another in the sixth and two in the seventh. Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.) started the Regent rally in the fifth with a leadoff double. One batter later, Michael Tosado ripped single into right, scoring Waugh and making it a 12-7 game. The Regents would add another run in the sixth when Bryce Hinkelman crushed a solo shot over the left field wall to make it 12-8. Rockford continued to put pressure on the Red Men, scoring two more runs in the seventh to pull back within two. Jacob Rillamas began the inning with a double down the left field line to put the leadoff batter on base for the seventh time in as many innings. Two batters later, Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) would drive in Rillamas as the Regents continued to cut into the Carthage lead. Following a wild pitch and a ground out, Austin Smith then drove in Down with an RBI single through the left side of the infield to make it a 12-10 game after seven innings of play.
Rockford would have chances to score runs in both of the final two innings, but unfortunately came up empty each time. Waugh and Tosado strung together back-to-back singles to begin the eighth, but a couple of miscues on the bases prevented the Regents from scoring in the inning. Then in the ninth, Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) led off the inning with a single, but was left stranded as the Carthage closer retired the next three batters to preserve the 13-10 win.
Rockford's comeback attempt was made possible in large part because of the excellent pitching performance out of the bullpen from senior Thomas Bolen (Tucson, Ariz.). Bolen sat down 10 straight Red Men including striking out four straight from final out in the sixth and all three hitters in the seventh. Bolen tossed the final 4.2 innings, allowing just two hits and one run, while striking out six.
Offensively Rockford had five players record a multi-hit performance. Senior Bryce Hinkelman led the way going 3-for-6 with a home run, 3 runs batted in and 2 runs scored. Fellow senior Michael Tosado went 3-for-4 with 2 runs batted in. Austin Smith was 2-for-5 with a double, 3 runs batted in and 1 run scored. Jacob Rillamas had a pair of hits as he was 2-for-3 with a double and 2 runs scored. Finally, Kyle Waugh finished the game 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored.
The RU baseball team returns to the field on Thursday, March 8 for a doubleheader against Bethany Lutheran College. First pitch is set for 10 AM.