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Zack Jones Fires a Two-Hit Shutout and Strikes Out Fourteen to Lead the Regents to Victory

Zack Jones
Zack Jones

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The Rockford University baseball team (10-26, 4-18 NACC) split its final series of the season on Friday afternoon at the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors (14-25, 5-17 NACC). Rockford won the opener 5-0 on back of an extremely impressive pitching performance from its ace right-hander Zack Jones (Rockford, Ill.). Jones threw his first complete game shutout of his collegiate career and also struck out a career-high 14 batters. It was the first nine-inning complete game shutout for a Regent pitcher since March 26, 2017. Unfortunately, the Regents were unable to secure the season sweep, as the Warriors won game two 11-3.


Rockford University 5 Wisconsin Lutheran College 0

  • Junior pitcher Zack Jones was nearly unhittable in his final start of the season. Jones retired the first 17 batters he faced before allowing an infield single in the sixth to end his bid at a perfect game. The right-hander allowed a total of two hits over his nine innings on the mound and struck out a career-high 14 batters. Jones concluded his day by striking out the side in both the eighth and ninth innings to improve his record to 5-1 this season. 
  • The RU offense staked Jones to a quick 2-0 lead after the top of the first inning. Troy Tucci (Wood Dale, Ill.) jump-started the Rockford attack with a one-out single into left field. He then stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error. One batter later, Brett Down (Princeville, Ill.) drove in Tucci with an RBI single back up the middle to give Rockford a 1-0 lead. Down then stole second and scored two batters later off a Christian Garcia (Maricopa, Ariz.) RBI single into center field. 
  • Rockford made it a 3-0 game with single run off two hits in the third. Troy Tucci again got things started with a one-out single to right field. Senior third baseman Brett Down followed with an RBI double to right center, to drive in his second run of the game. 
  • The Regents extended their lead to 4-0 with a run off three hits in the top of the sixth inning. Kyle Waugh (Waseca, Minn.), Christian Garcia and Justin Hallberg (Rockford, Ill.) all singled in the frame to load the bases with one out. Freshman Iszak Mestas (Burbank, Ill.) then gave his team a four-run lead with a sacrifice fly to center field.
  • Rockford's final run of the game came in the top of the eighth inning. The Regents had runners on first and second after a Justin Hallberg single and an Iszak Mestas hit by pitch. A couple of batters later, Hunter Fiorito (Batavia, Ill.) ripped a two-out RBI single through the left side of the infield to help Rockford secure a 5-0 win in the opener. 

Wisconsin Lutheran College 11 Rockford University 3

  • Wisconsin Lutheran scored single runs in the first and third innings to take an early 2-0 lead in game two. The Warriors scored a run off two hits in the first and an unearned run off one hit and one Regent error in the third. 
  • Rockford was able to cut the Wisconsin Lutheran lead in half with a run of its own in the top of the fourth inning. Brett Down singled to center and then stole second to put himself in scoring position with just one out. Two batters later, Cristian Bermeo (Chicago, Ill.) laced a two-out RBI single to left, to make it a 2-1 ballgame. 
  • However, the Warriors responded with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to extend their lead to 4-1. Wisconsin Lutheran scored a run off two hits in the fourth and another run off three hits in the bottom of the fifth.
  • RU senior Brett Down single-handedly manufactured a run for the Regents in the top of the sixth. Down began the inning with a leadoff walk, stole second and third and then scored on a muffed catch by the third baseman, to cut the Warrior lead down to 4-2.
  • Unfortunately, Wisconsin Lutheran got the run right back in the bottom half of the inning to make it a 5-2 game.
  • The Regents would not go down without a fight though, as they responded with another run in the seventh. Payton Clouse (Shannon, Ill.) singled and then advanced to second on a groundout to put himself in scoring position with two outs. One batter later, Troy Tucci delivered a two-out RBI single to center, scoring Clouse, and cutting the WLC lead to 5-3.
  • However, things took a turn for the worse over the next two innings. Wisconsin Lutheran scored four runs in the seventh and two runs in the eighth en route to an 11-3 win in the nightcap.


Game 1

  • Zack Jones threw his fourth complete game of the season to improve to 5-1 on the mound. Jones allowed just two hits and no walks while striking out out a career-high 14 for his first collegiate complete game shutout. Today's performance capped off an incredible season for the junior right-hander. Jones allowed one earned run or less in five of his eight starts and struck out at least ten batters five times. The right-hander finished the season at or near the top of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference in every pitching category. Jones led the NACC in earned run average (1.68), strikeouts (85) WHIP (0.87) and complete games (4), was fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.93), fifth in innings pitched (64.1) and tied for eighth in wins (5).
  • Troy Tucci went 4-for-5 with three stolen bases and a pair of runs scored.
  • Hunter Fiorito was 3-for-5 with two stolen bases and one RBI. Fiorito did an excellent job anchoring the top of the Regent lineup all season long, finishing the year sixth in the NACC in batting average (.389) and stolen bases (21).
  • Brett Down went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs, a stolen base and a run scored. 
  • Christian Garcia was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
  • Justin Hallberg finished 2-for-4 with a run scored. 

Game 2

  • Troy Tucci went 2-for-5 with a stolen base and an RBI.
  • Jacob Toepfer (Rockford, Ill.) was 2-for-4. 
  • Payton Clouse finished 1-for-2 with a run scored.
  • Brett Down went 1-for-4 with three stolen bases and two runs scored.
  • Joseph Kmiec (Bolingbrook, Ill.) struck out eight and allowed three earned runs during his five innings on the mound.