Illinois baseball unable to hold of Nebraska in final two frames

By Ethan Swanson

Through the first six innings in Saturday afternoon’s game against Nebraska, the Illinois baseball team scored seven runs, allowed two and used one pitcher.

In the next two frames, the Illinois (11-13) scored no runs, gave up seven and went through four pitchers.

Ultimately, the contest would end in a 9-8 victory for Nebraska (18-8), and yet another late-inning loss for the Illini.

“It’s tough to sit there and watch something like that happen,” starting pitcher Doug Hayes said. “You have to want the ball and want to make plays late in games. We just haven’t been doing that very well and it’s something we need to work on.”

The Illini needed little time to figure out Husker starting pitcher Jake McSteen, belting three singles in the first inning. Illini first baseman Pat McInerney’s base knock scored Dan Rowbottom to give Illinois the early 1-0 lead.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

After the Illini failed to extend their lead, leaving six men on base after the top of the fourth inning, a pair of doubles for Nebraska in the bottom frame tied the game at one.

The Illini would answer big in the form of a two-RBI triple off the outfield wall for Jack Yalowitz, followed by an RBI sacrifice fly-out from Doran Turchin, who finished the game with four total RBIs.

With a 4-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning, two Nebraska errors loaded the bases for Turchin.

The Huskers would change pitchers, but it made no difference for Turchin as he ripped a bases-clearing double to give Illinois the commanding 7-1 lead.

“Our hitter have gotten more confident at the plate,” Hayes said. “I think we’ve improved offensively as a team.”

Hayes got out of the sixth inning allowing only one Husker run despite Nebraska having two base runners with one out. Hayes would not return for the seventh inning.

“I just tried to be aggressive, attack the zone and work from ahead in the count,” Hayes said. “Unfortunately, in my last couple innings I got away from the zone and walked a few guys. I threw a lot of pitches and I had to come out.”

After Hayes left the game, the Illini lost control.

Nebraska got a quick run in the bottom of the seventh off Illini relief pitcher Charlie Naso, prompting Hartleb to bring in J.D. Nielson to face a left-handed Husker in a jam. Nielson would get out of the bind giving up just one run, making the score 7-4.

However, a solo home run to begin the bottom of the eighth would be the end of Nielson’s outing, sending Andrew Mamlic to the mound.

The right arm of Mamlic was cleary not the answer to Nebraska’s hitting frenzy, in fact, Malic only made the cut deeper.

The right hander gave up four straight singles to juice the bases and give the Huskers yet another run.

In desperation, the Illini pulled Yalowitz from right field to try and stop the bleeding. Eventually Illinois got out of the nightmarish inning, but the damage had been done, giving the Husker’s their first lead of game at 9-7 entering the ninth.

A Michael Hurwitz sacrifice fly-out would bring Illinois back within one, but that was all the Illini had left offensively, losing the game 9-8 after holding a six-run lead just three innings earlier.

[email protected]