LOVES PARK, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team (8-9, 4-1 NACC) faced off against the MSOE Raiders (11-10, 3-1 NACC) on Sunday afternoon. The Regents struggled to get their bats going in the first game as they fell to the Raiders 4-1. In game two the Regents rebounded well as they took the game with a final score of 5-3. The Rockford bullpen played incredible throughout the day on Sunday as it combined to throw 7.1 innings, allowing just 2 hits, 0 runs and striking out 7 batters.
In game one Rockford got behind early as MSOE came out of the top of the first with an early 1-0 lead. The Raiders would continue to add to their lead as they went on to score two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to bring their lead to 4-0. A big reason for the MSOE lead was its homeruns by Nick Gross in the fourth and Garrett Willems in the fifth.
Rockford called upon senior Thomas Bolen (Tucson, Ariz.) to come into the game in the fifth to record the last out of the inning. Bolen did well to keep the Regents within striking distance as he went on to finish the game and only surrendered two hits, while striking out two batters looking.
The pitching for MSOE was a large reason the Raiders went on to win game one. Michael Boehmer did not allow a run until the bottom of the seventh, where it was Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) who broke it up with a double down the left field line. Rockford used the momentum to go on to score its only run of the game, as one batter later, Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) singled to center field allowing Smith to reach home. Unfortunately, the Regents left two runners on in the bottom of the seventh to end their comeback. Rockford could not muster anymore runs late in the game as it went on to fall to the Raiders 4-1 in game one.
Game two was much better for the Regents as they turned it around to strike first in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead on the Raiders. Kraemer Brandt did well for Rockford finding a way to make it around the bases. He started things off by drawing a walk, then proceeded to second on a wild pitch with Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) at the plate. Unfortunately, Down flew out to center field, but it was enough to advance Brandt to third base. Next up, it was Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) who hit a sacrifice fly to left fly that was able to bring Brandt home and give Rockford the early lead.
MSOE showed its poise as it went on to score two runs in the very next inning and take a 2-1 lead on Rockford.
Rockford was not phased as the back-and-forth battle ensued. Rockford answered the call scoring three runs in the bottom of third to regain the lead 4-2. Jacob Rillamas (Yuma, Ariz.) started things off for the Regents as he knocked a single into left field. With Kraemer Brandt to bat, Rillamas took advantage of a wild pitch as he advanced to second. Brandt did his job at the plate as he laid down a sacrifice bunt perfectly to advance Rillamas to third. With one out, Brett Down hit a single down the right field line and scored Rillamas to tie the game at 2-2. With Bryce Hinkelman up to bat, Down was able to advance to second on a wild pitch, and then again to third due to a balk by the pitcher. Hinkelman showed his patience drawing a walk to give Rockford runners on the corners with one out. With Austin Smith up to bat, Hinkelman stole second to put Rockford in better scoring position. Smith did his job as he knocked a single into center field and scored Down; Hinkelman stayed put at second base. Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) reached first due to a fielding error by the third baseman to load the bases for the Regents. On the very next batter, a passed ball allowed all the runners to advance a base as Hinkelman touched home to give Rockford a 4-2 lead.
Rockford surrendered one more run in the top of sixth that made it a one-run game but was able to answer right away in the bottom of the frame to keep a comfortable two-run lead. Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.) started it off for Rockford as he reached first base due to an error by the pitcher. One batter later, Rillamas laced a single into left field that advanced Waugh to second. One batter later, Down crushed a double into right field that sent Waugh home. Unfortunately, Rockford attempted to score one more runner on the play, but the baserunner was thrown out at home.
Zachary Jones (Rockford, Ill.) did well on the mound for Rockford in game two as he was able to keep Rockford in it the whole time and come out of the game with a win. Jones pitched 6 innings while striking out an impressive 9 batters, with five of the batters looking. Joseph Kmiec (Bolingbrook, Ill.) played exceptional coming out of the bullpen to help secure the victory for Rockford and allow the Regents to stay on top. Kmiec entered in the top of the seventh and proceeded to get a quick three outs as he retired the first batter looking, the second swinging and got the third batter to fly out to center field. In the eighth inning, Kmiec had another quick inning on the mound as he struck out the first batter before forcing the second to ground out. After walking the third batter he proceeded to end the inning with a strikeout.
In the ninth inning the Kmiec continued to do well for Rockford, but it was Christian Dahlstrom (Clermont, Fla.) who entered the game for the Regents to get the Raiders last batter to pop up and end the game, clinching a 5-3 victory for the Regents.
Joseph Kmiec ended the game pitching 2.2 innings, allowing no hits or runs, and striking out 5 of the 10 batters he faced. Christian Dahlstrom came in for the last out of the game to lock up his fourth save of his freshman campaign.
On offense the Regents were led by Brett Down and Jacob Rillamas who each went 2-for-4 in the game. Down ended the game with a double and two RBIs. Bryce Hinkelman and Austin Smith each recorded an RBI in the game.
The Rockford University baseball team returns to action as it takes a break from NACC play to travel up to Beloit on Wednesday, April 11. First pitch is set for 6 PM.