Huskers Drop Series Opener Against Illinois, 5-2
Champaign, Ill. – The Nebraska baseball team (23-27, 7-13 Big Ten) out-hit Illinois and had two fewer errors, but lost to the Fighting Illini, 5-2, at Illinois Field on Thursday night.
Junior right-hander Matt Waldron, making his 12th start of the season, went 5.2 innings and allowed four runs on four hits, while recording four strikeouts. Mike Waldron went 2.1 innings in relief and allowed one run.
Nebraska scored its two runs in the top of the first. The first four Husker batters reached on three singles and a hit-by-pitch. Luke Roskam and Jaxon Hallmark each had RBIs, while Mojo Hagge and Scott Schreiber scored runs. NU left two runners on base. Illinois tied the game at 2-2 after the bottom of the first when Ben Troike hit a two-run home run to left field.
NU managed one baserunner in a scoreless second inning. Hagge drew a two-out walk before an inning-ending strikeout. The Fighting Illini went down in order in the bottom of the second.
Roskam and Angelo Altavilla each hit one-out singles in the top of the third and made it to second and third on a wild pitch. They remained stranded in a scoreless inning when a groundout ended the frame. Illinois managed one baserunner, but left him on base, as the score remained tied at 2-2 through three innings.
Brison Cronenbold singled in the top of the fourth, but was caught stealing as the third out of the inning for the Big Red. Illinois took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Michael Massey hit a solo home run to right field.
NU had runners at the corners with one out, but a flyout double play ended NU’s chance to tie the game in the fifth. The Illini went down in order, as Waldron recorded two strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth.
Alex Henwood reached on a one-out bunt single in the sixth, but was left stranded on second base after back-to-back groundouts. Illinois scored two runs on four hits to build a 5-2 lead after the bottom of the sixth. The Fighting Illini’s Doran Turchin and Jack Yalowitz produced back-to-back RBI doubles.
In the top of the seventh, Schreiber reached on an infield single and Wilkening walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Back-to-back strikeouts left both runners stranded in a scoreless frame for the Huskers. Illinois left two runners stranded in a scoreless bottom of the seventh. A two-out hit-by-pitch followed by a single put runners on the corners before a groundout ended the inning.
Hallmark drew a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth, but was thrown out on a double play in the following at-bat. A groundout ended the inning and kept Illinois’ lead at 5-2. Illinois got its first two baserunners on with a single and a walk, but the Huskers held the Illini scoreless.
Schreiber walked in the top of the ninth and was NU’s only baserunner in a scoreless frame when a strikeout ended the game.
The Huskers and Fighting Illini continue their three-game series on Friday at 6 p.m. (CT).