Illini Drop Big Ten Opener to Nebraska, 9-5
March 22, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois tied it at five in the sixth, but gave up three runs in the seventh and one in the ninth and dropped its Big Ten opener to Nebraska, 9-5. The Cornhuskers tallied 16 hits and capitalized on a pair of Illini errors, which led to a big inning and an early lead. Illinois' six-game winning streak was snapped, as the Orange and Blue fell to 13-5 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten after allowing the most runs this season.
"We were not a fundamentally sound team today," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "We were behind in the count too much and Nebraska took advantage of it. We had two costly errors and gave up a big inning. There are a lot of things we need to clean up."
After leaving runners on the corners in each of the first two innings, senior Kevin Johnson was unable to escape the same situation in the top of the third. On a squeeze play, Johnson threw the ball wide at home, allowing the first run to score. An RBI groundout and an RBI triple brought in the next two runs, while a throwing error by junior Thomas Lindauer let in the fourth unearned run in the inning.
The Illini cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third on a two-out, two-run double by sophomore Michael Hurwitz. Redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper doubled and advanced to third when sophomore Will Krug kept the inning alive by beating out an infield single. Both runners scored when Hurwitz sent a liner to the right field corner.
Nebraska took a 5-2 lead with another run in the top of the fourth, but Illinois responded in the bottom of the fifth by scoring two more runs with two outs. Senior Justin Parr singled up the middle on a 3-1 count and plated Krug and freshman Jason Goldstein to make it a one-run game at 5-4.
In the top of the sixth, senior Brandon Hohl doubled home sophomore David Kerian to tie it up at five, but the Cornhuskers came right back in the top of the seventh with three runs to go ahead 8-5. A pair of RBI doubles off freshman Tyler Jay and an RBI single off redshirt-freshman Andrew Mamlic put Nebraska in front for good. The Cornhuskers added a final run in the top of the ninth and snapped their three-game losing streak.
Johnson received a no decision after tossing six innings and letting in five runs but only one earned. Jay was charged with all three runs in the seventh inning and suffered his second loss of the season. Four Illini notched multiple hits, led by a 3-for-4 day by Kerian, as the Illini totaled 13 hits at Illinois Field.
Up Next: Due to potential inclement weather on Sunday, the Illini and Cornhuskers will play a doubleheader on Saturday, March 23 at noon and 3 p.m. Sophomore John Kravetz (2-0, 3.28 ERA) will start game one against Ryan Hander (0-2, 4.03 ERA), while the game two starter is TBA.