Pat Kelly delivered a two-run single in the top of the eighth inning to help Nebraska earn a split in its baseball doubleheader with Illinois on Saturday and win the weekend series at Champaign, Ill.
In the first game, Illinois scored a run in the bottom of the ninth on a squeeze bunt for an 8-7 victory. Nebraska won the series opener Friday, 9-5.
In the second game Saturday, Husker relievers Zach Hirsch and Dylan Vogt combined to shut down Illinois over the last six innings to preserve the victory. Hirsch scattered five hits in 3 1/3 innings and Vogt surrendered just one hit in the final 2 2/3 innings.
"Zach did great job. He's found a nice role in that spot," Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said in his post-game radio show. "I told Vogter, 'You better have your rest, because you're going to get used a lot in conference play.'
"Dylan was throwing the ball so well, we said what the heck, let's let him keep going."
Blake Headley led off the eighth with a walk and went to second on a sacrifice by Tanner Lubach. Bryan Peters came on as a pinch hitter and reached on an error. With two outs, Kelly, who was hitless in his first four at-bats of the game, slapped the ball to right field for the winning margin.
The Huskers broke on top when Michael Pritchard singled in Rich Sanguinetti, who led off the game with a double. Nebraska threatened to break the game open in the third when five of the first six Huskers to the plate singled. Chad Christensen, Austin Darby and Kash Kalkowski each had run-scoring hits, but the Huskers left the bases loaded after taking a 4-2 lead.
All four of Illinois' runs came with two outs. In the second inning, Justin Parr singled after NU starter Brandon Pierce walked two and hit a batter to load the bases. In the third inning, Kelly Norris-Jones got just his third hit of the year, doubling in two runs after Pierce got two outs to start the inning.
"We tried every way possible to throw that game away early, from getting the first two outs quick and then just decided to walk people and hit batters and get the bases loaded, making it really difficult on ourselves," Erstad said.
David Kerian led off the ninth with a single, but Peters knocked down two grounders and was able to get the force both times before he gunned down the final batter.
"Petey came in and made a couple of plays for us, one to his left and one to his right," Erstad said. "We did a great job of fighting back. It's good to see the offense get going and guys get big two-out hits, because two-out hits have been hard to come by, and now they're coming."
In the first game, Husker reliever Caleb Hawkins got out of a jam in the eighth inning, but the junior pitcher couldn't do it again. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Lincoln plated the winning run on a squeeze bunt.
Thomas Lindauer, who led off the ninth with a double to right, advanced when Reid Roper reached Kelly's error on a sacrifice attempt.
Illinois took a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-run double to right by Roper. The Huskers answered with a pair of runs in the third. Kalkowski singled and came home on a hit by Peters, who scored on a single by Kelly. The Illini regained the lead in the third with RBI singles by Jordan Parr and Kerian.
Nebraska trimmed the lead to 4-3 when Chad Christensen singled and eventually came home on an error. The Huskers took a 6-4 lead in the fifth. Kelly singled and scored on a double by Pritchard. After Christensen reached on an error, Austin Darby singled in Pritchard, then Josh Scheffert's grounder scored Darby.
Illinois jumped back on top with three runs in the bottom of the fifth on four hits and a Husker error. Nebraska tied the game in the sixth when Peters was hit by a pitch and came home on a Kelly single.
— Ryly Jane Hambleton
ILLINOIS 8, NEBRASKA 7
|Sanguinetti cf||4||0||1||0||Krug rf||5||1||3||0|
|Kelly 2b||5||1||3||2||Hurwitz dh||5||1||2||0|
|Pritchard dh||4||1||1||1||Ju. Parr cf||4||0||1||0|
|Christensen lf||5||2||1||0||Jor. Parr lf||5||2||1||1|
|Darby rf||5||0||2||1||Kerian 1b||4||2||2||2|
|Scheffert 3b||3||0||0||1||Lindauer ss||4||1||2||1|
|Headley 3b||2||0||0||0||Hohl 3b||3||1||2||1|
|Kalkowski 1b||3||1||1||0||Roper 2b||5||0||1||2|
|Fish c||2||0||1||0||Norris-Jones c||2||0||0||0|
|Peters ss||3||2||1||1||Hainline pr||0||0||0||0|
NOTE: None out, 3 runners LOB when game ended.
E--Kelly (4), Darby (2), Lindauer 2 (5). DP--Illinois 1. LOB--Nebraska 8, Illinois 13. 2B--Pritchard (3), Lindauer (3), Roper (4). S--Fish 2 (2), Norris-Jones (1). SB--Christensen (7), Peters (1), Krug 2 (6), Jor. Parr (8). CS--Darby (2), Hurwitz (2).
|Hawkins, L 0-1||2/3||2||1||1||0||0|
|Roberts, W 3-0||2||1||0||0||1||1|
HBP--by Kravetz (Peters); by Roberts (Kalkowski); by Hawkins (Hohl). WP--Hander (2). PB--Fish (3). T--2:55.
NEBRASKA 6, ILLINOIS 4
|Sanguinetti cf||5||2||2||0||Krug rf||4||1||0||0|
|Kelly 2b||5||0||1||2||Hurwitz 2b||4||0||2||0|
|Pritchard dh||4||1||2||1||Ju. Parr cf||4||0||1||2|
|Christensen lf||5||1||2||1||Jo. Parr lf||5||0||1||0|
|Darby rf||5||0||3||1||Kerian 1b||4||0||1||0|
|Kalkowski 1b||5||0||1||1||Lindauer ss||5||0||1||0|
|Headley 3b||1||1||0||0||Hohl 3b||4||1||2||0|
|Lubach c||2||0||1||0||Hendrickson dh||4||1||2||0|
|Edrington ss||3||0||0||0||Norris-Jones c||2||1||1||2|
E--Hohl. DP-- Nebraska 1; Illinois 2. LOB--Nebraska 9; Illinois 13. 2B--Sanguinetti; Hurwitz; Ju. Parr; Hohl. SH--Lubach; Ju. Parr. SB--Kelly; Darby; Peters. CS--Darby.
|Vogt, W 1-2||2.2||1||0||0||0||2|
|Jay, L 1-3||1.0||1||2||0||1||2|
HBP--by Pierce (Hurwitz); by Hirsch (Norris-Jones). T--2:35. A--716.