Nebraska and Illinois split a doubleheader Saturday afternoon in Champaign, losing the first game 8-7 and winning the second 6-4.
The Illini took a 2-0 lead in the second inning of game one on a pair of two-out hits. After a single from Brandon Hohl put runners on first and second, Reid Roper delivered a double to drive them both in.
Kash Kalkowski started the third with a single and went to third on a sacrifice bunt from Taylor Fish as no one covered third base when third baseman Hohl charged on the bunt. Bryan Peters, Rich Sanguinetti and Pat Kelly followed with three straight singles to tie the game.
The Illini got both runs back in the bottom of the third, again with two-out hitting. With lead-off man Will Krug on second, Jordan Parr lined a single to score Krug and then stole second to put himself in scoring position. Parr moved to third on a wild pitch, which proved important, as David Kerian followed with a swinging bunt that just stayed in fair territory as it rolled down the third-base line to score Parr.
Chad Christensen led off the fourth with a single, stole second and moved to third on a ground out to the right side by Austin Darby. Josh Scheffert popped out for the second out of the inning, but shortstop Thomas Lindauer committed an error on a ground ball off the bat of Kalkowski that scored Christensen to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Nebraska took its first lead of the game in the fifth with three runs on three hits and an Illinois error. After Sanguinetti flew out to start the inning, Kelly reached on a single and tied the game when Michael Pritchard doubled into the left-field gap. Christensen then hit the ball hard at Lindauer, who committed an error for the second straight inning to put runners on the corners with one out. Darby drove in Pritchard with a single and Scheffert plated Christensen with an RBI ground out to put Nebraska in front 6-4.
The Husker lead didn’t last long as the Illini answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. After NU starter Ryan Hander gave up a lead-off single to Michael Hurwitz, reliever Luke Bublitz came in and gave up three singles before retiring Hohl and Roper to end the fifth.
NU put together a two-out rally in the sixth to tie the game at 7-7. Peters was hit by a pitch, Sanguinetti walked and with a righty in Kelly coming up, Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb made an unorthodox move to bring in lefty reliever Anthony Milazzo. Kelly took advantage of the match-up with his third hit of the game to drive in Peters.
Lindauer doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Hohl was hit by a pitch and an error by Kelly on a sacrifice bunt by Roper loaded the bases. Alex Lincoln stepped in and laid down a squeeze bunt on the first pitch he saw to win the game for Illinois.
Nebraska jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second game as Sanguinetti doubled. With one down, Pritchard lined a single to score Sanguinetti.
Parr's bases loaded single in the second put the Fighting Illini up 2-1.
The Huskers sent nine batters to the plate in the third to take a 4-2 lead. Sanguinetti lead off with his second hit of the game and after Kelly grounded out, the Huskers strung together four straight singles.
The bottom of the third was a replay of the second for the Illini (14-6, 1-2 Big Ten) as Brandon Pierce retired the first two batters he faced, but then allowed a pair of runners. No. 9 hitter Kelly Norris-Jones delivered a two-run double down the left-field line to tie the game at 4-4.
The game remained tied until the eighth. Kelly put the Huskers (8-14, 2-1 Big Ten) back in front with a two-out single. Blake Headley led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice from Tanner Lubach. Peters then pinch hit for Wes Edrington and reached on a throwing error by Hohl at third, which also allowed Headley to move to third. Sanguinetti struck out for the second out, but during the at-bat Peters stole second. With two down, Kelly lifted the first pitch he saw from reliever Jay Tyler into the right-field gap to plate two runs.