The Huskers pounded out a season-high 16 hits on their way to a 9-5 win at Illinois on Friday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Nebraska made Illinois starter Kevin Johnson work as the senior threw 114 pitches over 6.0 innings, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks. Every Husker batter totaled at least one hit while five Huskers had multiple hits, including three-hit performances from Rich Sanguinetti and Pat Kelly. Six Huskers had an RBI with Josh Scheffert leading the way with a pair of RBIs.
Nebraska (7-13, 1-0 Big Ten) produced three extra-base hits, including a triple from Kash Kalkowski, who was also hit twice, and a double each from Scheffert and Austin Darby.
Starter Christian DeLeon ate up 7.0 innings for the Huskers and got the win to improve to 2-2 on the season. DeLeon gave up five runs on 11 hits, but was able to work out of a couple tough situations with no walks and three strikeouts. Dylan Vogt closed the game with two shutout innings to pick up his fourth save of the season.
The Huskers gave DeLeon a 4-0 lead in the third inning. Michael Pritchard got the offense going with a one-out single and moved first-to-third on a hit-and-run by Chad Christensen to put runners on the corners for Darby. The sophomore laid down a squeeze and it looked as if Pritchard would be out at the plate, but Johnson threw the ball wide of catcher Jason Goldstein, allowing Pritchard to score. Christensen to move to third and Darby to second. Scheffert followed with a RBI ground out, his team-leading 12th RBI of the season. Kalkowski kept the inning going with an RBI triple down the right-field line and then scored when shortstop Thomas Lindauer committed Illinois’ second error of the inning on a ground ball off the bat of Tanner Lubach.
Illinois (13-5, 0-1 Big Ten) cut the Nebraska lead in the half with a pair of runs on three hits, including two doubles, in the bottom of the third. After facing just six Illini hitters through the first two innings, DeLeon retired Brandon Hohl before Reid Roper lifted a double into the right-field gap. DeLeon got a fly out from Goldstein and was close to getting out of the inning when he induced a grounder from lead-off hitter Will Krug, but the Illini right fielder was able to leg out an infield single. It was a big play for the Illini as Michael Hurwitz followed with a two-run double. DeLeon then retired No. 3 hitter Justin Parr to end the third inning.
NU got one run back in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead, starting with a pair of lead-off singles from Sanguinetti and Kelly followed by a sacrifice bunt from Pritchard. With two Huskers in scoring position and one down, Christensen hit a soft ground ball to short that scored Sanguinetti, but Kelly was thrown out at third.
Justin Parr's two-out, two-run single in the fifth cut NU’s lead to 5-4. Illinois tied the game in the sixth when Brandon Hohl plated David Kerian with a double after Kerian led off the inning with a single.
The Huskers scored three runs in the seventh to retake the lead at 8-5. Releiver Jay Tyler took the mound and walked Pritchard, who moved to second on a sacrifice from Christensen. Darby and Scheffert followed with back-to-back doubles, putting Nebraska up 7-5. After Kalkowski was hit for the ninth time this season, Lubach executed a hit-and-run that scored Scheffert.
The Husker bats added an insurance run in the ninth when Sanguinetti drove in Kalkowski, who reached when he was hit for the second time, with a two-out single.