NU evens Illinois series in comeback win
Posted By: Sports
Story Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics
Lincoln – Trailing 7-4 heading in to the bottom of the eighth inning, the Nebraska baseball (18-8, 4-1 Big Ten) scored five runs to take a 9-7 lead on its way to a 9-8 comeback win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (11-13, 3-2 Big Ten) in front of 4,166 fans at Hawks Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers trailed 7-1 after the top of the sixth and scored eight of the game’s final nine runs. It was the first time the Huskers have overcome a deficit of six runs or more since May 21, 2014, when NU downed Ohio State 7-6 in the Big Ten Tournament after trailing 6-0 in the fourth inning.
NU’s five-run eighth inning came on seven hits, which nearly matched the eight hits the Huskers had through the first seven innings. With one out, Luis Alvarado got the rally started with his second career home run and first of the season, his first career homer also came against the Illini last year in Champaign. The Huskers then rattled off four straight singles by Taylor Fish, Cole Klemke, Steven Reveles and Ryan Boldt, with Boldt’s scoring Fish to make it a 7-6 game. With the bases loaded Jake Placzek worked a full count before popping up for the second out of the inning. Illinois brought in right-fielder Jack Yalowtiz, who is also a left-handed pitcher, to face lefty Ben Miller. The Huskers’ 3-hole hitter drove a 0-1 offering from Yalowitz back through the box and two runs scored to give NU its first lead of day. Yalowitz then looked to get out of the inning when he got Scott Schreiber to pop up in the infield, but miscommunication by the Illini defense allowed the ball to drop and Boldt scored the eventual game-winning run to give Nebraska a 9-7 lead.
Freshman Chad Luensmann took the mound in the ninth and facing the bottom of Illinois’ lineup he issued consecutive walks to start the frame. Illinois went with a sac bunt to put both runners in scoring position and then No. 9 hitter Michael Hurtwitz lifted a sac fly to left field and cut NU’s lead to one run. With the tying run at second and leadoff hitter Adam Walton at the plate, Luensmann notched his fourth save of the season with a 4-3 groundout.
Every Husker batter had at least one hit on the day, including multiple hits from five Huskers and four of NU’s first five batters. Jake Meyers was 3-for-5 on the day with two RBIs, while Miller was 2-for-5 with three RBIs.
After NU’s first two pitchers on the afternoon allowed seven runs on six hits and five walks over 5.2 innings of work, sophomore Garett King gave NU 2.1 innings of scoreless relief and allowed just one hit. King earned the win on Saturday to improve to 3-1 on the year.
Illinois jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on three hits. Nebraska then evened the game in the fourth at 1-1 before the Illini scored three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to take a 7-1 lead.
After notching a run in the bottom of the sixth, the Huskers scratched across a pair of runs on three hits in the seventh, with Placzek and Miller each picking up RBIs. Following back-to-back one-out hits by Reveles and Boldt, Placzek notched his 20th RBI of the season with a sac fly. Miller followed with a RBI single, cutting Illinois’ lead to 7-4, before J.D. Nielsen got Schreiber to fly out to end the inning.
Following a 1-2-3 top of the eighth by King, the only time all day the Illini were retired in order, Nebraska offense put together its five-run frame and held on to even the series at a game apiece.
Due to Illinois’ travel tomorrow, the finale of the series has been moved up one hour to 12:05 p.m.