MONTGOMERY, Ill. - The Rockford University baseball team (15-20, 9-9 NACC) dropped a pair of tough road games, 17-7 and 14-3, to the Aurora University Spartans (24-12, 11-7 NACC) on Tuesday afternoon. Although the final scores heavily favored the Spartans, Rockford led for much of the opener, and was within striking distance early on in game two. However, the Spartans were able to capitalize on multiple big innings to pull away in both games.
Rockford began game one by scoring in each of the first three innings to take a quick 3-0 lead. Senior Kraemer Brandt (Elk Grove, Ill.) single-handedly manufactured the first run of the game in the top of the first inning. Brandt began the game with a leadoff walk, then advanced to second on a wild pitch, third on a passed ball and ultimately scored on another wild pitch, to put the Regents out in front 1-0. In the second, the Regents again got the leadoff man aboard when senior Chris Carlson (Schaumburg, Ill.) singled back up the middle. Carlson would then move to second on a passed ball and third on a Corey Saracco (Montgomery, Ill.) infield single to put runners on the corners with one out. During the next at bat, Saracco stole second, as Aurora threw the ball into center field, allowing Carlson to score and Rockford to extend its lead to 2-0. The Regents would add another run in the third off a Bryce Hinkelman (Ottawa, Ill.) solo home run to make it 3-0 Rockford lead heading into the fourth.
The Regents' lead would not last long, as Aurora scored a trio of runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Spartans used three hits including a two-run double to score their three runs and tie the game at 3-3.
Fortunately though the Regents responded right back with three runs of their own in the top of the fifth. Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) began the inning with a leadoff double, followed by a Bryce Hinkelman walk to put runners on first and second with no one out. One batter later, senior Austin Smith (Peru, Ill.) laced an RBI single into left field, scoring Down, as the Regents regained the lead. Later in the inning, Michael Tosado (Chicago, Ill.) and Corey Saracco each followed suit with RBI singles of their own, to give Rockford a 6-3 advantage heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Rockford's only other run in the game came in the top of the seventh off a hit by pitch and a pair of singles. Chris Carlson began the frame by getting hit by a pitch and then advanced to second on a Michael Tosado single. Later in the inning, Corey Saracco tallied his third hit of the game, this one an RBI single, to drive in Carlson.
Unfortunately it was not enough, as Aurora controlled the final three innings of the game. The Spartans scored 14 runs over those three innings, including a six-run fifth to take the opener 17-7.
Offensively the Regents had a trio of players record multi-hit performances. Corey Saracco led the way going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Chris Carlson was perfect at the plate, finishing 2-for-2 with a double and two runs scored. Michael Tosado was the final Regent with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Senior Bryce Hinkelman crushed his team-leading fifth home run of the season, finishing 1-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored.
Game two was close early on as both the Regents and Spartans scored multiple runs over the first two innings. Unlike in the opener, it was the Spartans who got on the board first. Aurora used one hit and took advantage of a Rockford error to score three runs and take a 3-0 lead heading into the second. Thankfully Rockford was able to answer with two runs of its own to cut the Spartan lead down to a single run. Brett Down began the frame with a double, followed by a Michael Tosado walk, to put runners on first and second with no one out. Two batters later, Christian Garcia (Maricopa, Ariz.) made it a 3-1 game with an RBI single through the right side of the infield. Seth Sanderson (Fulton, Ill.) followed with an RBI single of his own, to pull his team back within one, at 3-2.
The Regents would add one more run in the fourth off a pair of hits. John Mareks (Tucson, Ariz.) started the rally with a one-out triple to left field, and then scored one batter later off a Christian Garcia RBI single.
However just like in game one, the Spartan offense exploded over the final four innings. Aurora tallied 11 runs down the stretch, including six in the third, en route to a 14-3 win.
Rockford once again had three players tally multiple hits in the nightcap. Freshman Christian Garcia led the way going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of RBIs. Austin Smith finished 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Seth Sanderson also went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The RU baseball team currently sits one game out of the sixth and final spot in the NACC Tournament heading into the final weekend of conference play. The Regents will hit the road on Saturday for their final NACC doubleheader of the season against the Lakeland University Muskies. First pitch is set for noon.