Illini Split Saturday Doubleheader with Cornhuskers

Redshirt-junior Alex Lincoln laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to bring home the winning run in game one of the doubleheader.
Redshirt-junior Alex Lincoln laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to bring home the winning run in game one of the doubleheader.

March 23, 2013

Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score | Photo Gallery  | Hartleb Interview

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois opened the day with an 8-7 walk-off win on a suicide squeeze bunt in game one, but fell 6-4 to Nebraska in the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday. The Illini dropped to 1-2 in the conference after their first Big Ten series of the year and sit at 14-6 overall through the first 20 games.

Redshirt-junior Alex Lincoln laid down a perfect bunt with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to bring home junior Thomas Lindauer for his first RBI of the year, which gave Illinois its first walk-off win since May 21, 2011 (7-5 over Indiana). Fifth-year senior Bryan Roberts picked up his third win in his third appearance on the mound after tossing two scoreless innings to close out the first game of the day.

"Alex did a very good job to get us in the win column in the Big Ten," Hartleb said. "We put pressure on him in the very last inning with that call by coach Snider, but he laid down the perfect bunt that wasn't defendable."

In the second game of the day, the Illini came through with a pair of two-out, two-run doubles to score four runs in the first three innings, but were unable to get another run across the plate. With the game tied 4-4 in the top of the eighth, the Cornhuskers scored two unearned runs, which led to their 6-4 victory. Illinois collected 26 hits between the two games, but left 26 on base, with 13 in each contest.

"We had a number of opportunities on the day, but did not take advantage of them," Hartleb said. "I was disappointed with the at-bats we took with runners in scoring position. We were not a disciplined team and didn't swing at strikes."

Game 1 Recap // Illinois 8, Nebraska 7
With the game tied 7-7 in the bottom of the ninth, Lindauer led off the frame with a double and senior Brandon Hohl took a hit by pitch on a 1-2 count. Redshirt-sophomore Reid Roper laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached first when the Huskers second baseman dropped the throw. On the very next pitch, Lindauer came charging home from third as Lincoln placed a perfect bunt down to the right side of the field. Lindauer stepped on the plate to seal the Illini victory before the Nebraska pitcher was even able to make a throw to home.

Roberts took over on the mound in the eighth inning and left a Cornhusker on third base with an inning-ending strikeout. Roberts gave up his first hit of the year in the top of the ninth, but kept Big Red off the board, setting up Lincoln's heroics. The Lisle, Ill., native has thrown 4.2 scoreless innings this season and is tied with senior Kevin Johnson for the most wins on the staff with three.

Illinois scored a pair of runs in the second and third innings to take an early 4-2 lead. With two outs in the second, Roper doubled to right field and plated Hohl and sophomore David Kerian. In the next inning, back-to-back RBI singles by redshirt-junior Jordan Parr and Kerian brought home two more runs.

Nebraska scored an unearned run in the fourth and added three more in the fifth to jump ahead 6-4. The Illini came right back in the bottom of the fifth and scored three runs of their own on RBI singles by Kerian and Lindauer along with an RBI groundout by Hohl.

The Cornhuskers tied it up with another run in the sixth inning and knocked out sophomore starter John Kravetz, who was replaced by sophomore Anthony Milazzo with two outs in the inning. Milazzo gave up an RBI single, and Kravetz ended up receiving a no decision after 5.2 innings and seven runs, with five earned. Milazzo got out of the sixth with a groundout and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh before Roberts finished the contest.

Krug went 3-for-5 while four other players put up two hits, as the Illini tallied their third-most hits of the season with 15. Six different Illini scored runs, including two each for Jordan Parr and Kerian, who also had two RBI along with Roper.

Game 2 Recap // Nebraska 6, Illinois 4
The Illini posted 11 hits and saw every starter reach base in the second game, but only could muster four runs, which came in the first three innings. The Cornhuskers totaled 12 hits and no errors on their way to the 6-4 win after scoring two unearned runs in the eighth.

Illinois fell behind 1-0 in the first, but grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second on a two-out, two-run double by Justin Parr that plated Krug and redshirt-sophomore Kelly Norris-Jones. Nebraska jumped back in front 4-2 with three runs off starter Drasen Johnson in the third, who was relieved by redshirt-sophomore Rob McDonnell.

In the bottom of the third, the Illini tied it 4-4 with another two-out, two-run double. This one came from Norris-Jones and brought home Hohl and senior Davis Hendrickson. McDonnell then threw four scoreless innings and got the Illini to the eighth still tied.

Freshman Tyler Jay came in for the eighth and walked the first batter. A sac bunt moved the runner to second and a throwing error by Hohl put runners on the corners. After a strikeout that would have ended the inning, Nebraska took the lead on a two-out, two-run single. Jay was pinned with his second loss in as many days as the Illini were unable to come back in the final two innings.

Up Next: Illinois will continue its seven-game home stand with its first midweek game of the season. The Illini will face Illinois State on Tuesday, March 26 at 4:05 p.m. at Illinois Field.