With the victory, the Big 12 champion Huskers improved to 52-13 on the year and advanced to Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. game against the winner of Friday’s second game at the NCAA Lincoln Regional between NC State and Creighton.
The Flames fell to 38-20-1 on the season and will battle the loser of tonight’s game between the Wolfpack and Bluejays on Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
UIC, the champions of the Horizon League, pushed the Huskers to the limit in the tournament opener by scoring single runs in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead.
But the Huskers responded with three runs in a decisive bottom of the sixth. Ryan Wehrle led off with a solid single, before being sacrificed to second by Daniel Bruce. Jeff Christy pushed Wehrle to third with a single to left, before Jesse Boyer followed with a double to the gap in left-center field to score Wehrle.
Boyer’s double put runners at second and third for Joe Simokaitis, who chased UIC starting pitcher Ryan Zink by lacing a one-out RBI single that scored both Christy and Boyer to give NU a 7-5 lead. Zink fell to 8-6 on the year after surrendering seven runs, including five earned, in 5.1 innings of work.
Brian Duensing pitched 2.1 solid innings in relief of NU starter Joba Chamberlain to improve to 8-0 on the season. Duensing surrendered just a solo home run to UIC’s Shane Crowder, who finished with four hits on the day, including a double and two singles. Crowder’s homer in the eighth ended Duensing’s streak of 17.2 consecutive scoreless innings that dated back to the Big 12 Tournament.
Christy, a junior catcher from
Ryan Bohanan and Andy Gerch each added two-hit days to help fuel and 11-hit Husker attack.
The Huskers’ timely hitting allowed NU to overcome the 14 hits put up by the Flames, including the four hits by Crowder, a 3-for-4 effort by Ted Rosinski that included a solo homer and a double, and a 3-for-5 performance by Mark Hallberg, as those three UIC hitters accounted for 10 hits.