NEBRASKA BASEBALL: Huskers Drop Rubber Match to Illinois

LINCOLN –-(NU Athletics April 28)– Tied in the ninth inning for the second straight day, Nebraska (23-16, 12-6 Big Ten) found itself on the wrong end this time in a 6-5 loss to Illinois at Hawks Field on Sunday afternoon.

The Fighting Illini (28-14, 8-7 Big Ten) had runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the ninth after a base hit and error on a fielder’s choice. NU recorded back-to-back outs before Kellen Sarver’s go-ahead double drove in two runs to give Illinois a 6-4 lead.

Looking to respond and walk-off for the second consecutive day, NU put two runners on via walks with two outs before Cam Chick’s single through the right side scored one run to trim the deficit to 6-5. However, the game ended on a groundout to the shortstop in the subsequent at-bat.

Senior right-hander Reece Eddins, making his eighth start of the season, threw 4.1 innings and allowed three runs. Nebraska saw relief appearances from Shay Schanaman (1.2 innings), Mike Waldron (1.0) and Colby Gomes (2.0).

Nebraska out-hit Illinois by a 9-8 margin, with Mojo Hagge leading the offense with a 3-for-4 showing. Joe Acker, Saturday’s walk-off hero, and Cam Chick also produced multi-hit efforts in Sunday’s loss.

After a scoreless first two innings for both teams, Illinois plated one run in the top of the third and two runs in the top of the fourth to build a 3-0 lead.

After a scoreless fifth, the Fighting Illini scored a run in the top of the sixth to extend its lead to 4-0 before NU responded with one run in the bottom of the sixth. Luke Roskam was hit-by-pitch in the leadoff spot and advanced to second on Acker’s base hit. They advanced to second and third on a wild pitch before the second out was recorded. Hagge singled to right field to drive in Roskam, but Acker was thrown out after rounding third on the play.

Nebraska added three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score at 4-4. Pinch hitter Alex Henwood drew a leadoff walk before a flyout. Aaron Palensky also walked to put two runners on before a double steal. Roskam drew a walk to load the bases. Acker roped a two-run single to center field that drove in Henwood and Palensky. In the next at-bat, Chick laced an RBI single to tie the game before a pop-out ended the inning.

The Huskers return to action next weekend when they visit Evanston, Ill., for a three-game series at Northwestern.