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Saracco, Smith and Brandt Tally Three Hits Each but Regents Come Up Short

Corey Saracco
Corey Saracco

TUCSON, Ariz. – The Rockford University baseball team (0-8) concluded its spring trip on Saturday with its second game against the Carthage College Red Men (7-2) in the past six days. Rockford continued its hot hitting against the Red Men as the Regents pounded out 16 hits and eight runs, after scoring 10 runs off 13 hits earlier in the week. However, the Regents' were unable to avoid the big inning defensively as Carthage scored at least three runs in three separate innings. The Red Men were also able to take advantage of four Rockford errors leading to five unearned runs en route to an 11-8 win.

The game got off to an excellent start as the Regents scored in each of the first three innings to take an early 6-1 advantage. Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) continued to do an excellent job finding a way to reach base, as he began the game by getting hit by a pitch to put a runner on first with no one out. Two batters later, Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) singled into left to put two runners aboard for the heart of the Regents' lineup. Senior Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) then laced a 2-run double down the left field line, scoring Brandt and Hinkelman as the Regents jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead.

Carthage would respond with a single run in the bottom half of the frame before the Regents put a three-spot on the board in the second. Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) jump-started the offense with a one-out walk to give Rockford its first base runner of the inning. Kraemer Brandt, Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.), Bryce Hinkelman and Austin Smith then strung together four straight singles, with Down, Hinkelman and Smith all driving in a run to make it a 5-1 Rockford lead. However Rockford was unable to tack on any additional runs as the Regents would ground into double play to end the inning.

The Regents continued to build upon their lead with a single run in the third inning. Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) began the inning with single to center to put the leadoff hitter aboard for the second time in the first three innings. Tosado would slowly work his way over to third following a passed ball and a ground out to put a runner in scoring position with only one out. Center fielder Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) then drove in Tosado with a chopper over the third baseman's head to extend Rockford's lead to 6-1.

Unfortunately things began to take a turn for the worse over the next couple of innings. It was once again the big inning that hurt the Regents as the Red Men scored four runs in the fourth and three runs in the fifth to take their first lead of the game at 8-6. Carthage took advantage of a trio of Rockford errors during the two innings, which led to four unearned runs.

However as has been the case all season thus far, Rockford continued to play hard and would eventually knot the game at eight with a run in the seventh and another in the eighth. Corey Saracco got the offense started in the seventh when he crushed a one-out triple into right center for his third hit of the day. One batter later, Seth Sanderson (Fulton, Ill.) drove in Saracco with a sacrifice fly to left, making it just a one-run game. Rockford would then tie the game in eighth following a Carthage error and a pair of singles off the bats of Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) and Michael Tosado. However, the game would not remained tied for long, as Carthage scored a trio of runs in the bottom half of the frame and then held on for an 11-8 win.

Rockford once again excelled at the plate with six players recording at least two hits. Corey Saracco finished the game 3-for-4 with a triple, a run scored and an RBI. Austin Smith was once again a force in the middle of the Regent lineup going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a team-high 3 RBIs. Kraemer Brandt continued to do an excellent job out of the leadoff spot going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and reaching base after being hit by a pitch. Michael Tosado went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Bryce Hinkelman finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Brett Down was 2-for-6 with a run scored and a run driven in.

On the mound for the Regents on Saturday was the duo of Zachary Jones (Rockford, Ill.) and Dalton Morris (Somonauk, Ill.). In just his second collegiate start, Jones went five innings while allowing four earned runs and striking out six. Morris made his fourth appearance of the season, tossing three innings out of the pen and allowing two earned runs, while striking out four.

The RU baseball team returns to the diamond on Saturday, March 24 at home against Augustana. First pitch is set for 1 PM at Rivets Stadium.