Nebraska falls apart, losing a Sunday marathon to Illinois
The Nebraska baseball team (20-29, 8-13 Big Ten) collapsed after two lengthy delays to lose the rubber match to Illinois (28-20, 14-7 Big Ten) 5-4.
Jackson Brockett was the starter on the mound for the Huskers, and the freshman dealt two straight scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
NU struck first in this one with one huge swing of the bat in the top of the third inning. With two outs, Griffin Everitt and Max Anderson hit back-to-back singles. In the following at-bat, Leighton Banjoff walked to load the bases. Colby Gomes stepped up and hit a monster drive to center field for a grand slam to give Nebraska a 4-0 lead.
Lightning in the area then paused this game for over 90 minutes, forcing both teams to change pitchers.
Koty Frank came into the game after the delay with a runner on first, and a 3-1 count. Frank walked the first batter, but got out of the jam with a strikeout and a double play.
With the offense coming out of the break slow, Frank kept the Huskers ahead with three strong innings. In his fourth inning, a couple of hits got a run back for Illinois. Two more hits in the bottom of the seventh was the end of the day for Frank.
Braxton Bragg came in with runners on the corners and allowed a hit and a sac fly that brought in two runs for the Illini, making it 4-3, Nebraska leading.
The bottom of the eighth saw Illinois tie it up after a fielding error for NU. With a runner on first, the Illini popped up a bunt to Bragg, which he caught and threw to first for the double play, but the throw was errant and the runner advanced to second. A base hit in the next at-bat scored the runner and tied the game at four a-piece.
Chandler Benson took over on the mound after Bragg allowed two runners on base after the run came home. Benson struck out the only batter he faced, and CJ Hood was brought in for a better matchup. Hood walked a batter and got the final out of the inning, but the damage was already done.
Once again, lightning delayed the game headed into the top of the ninth, and the game was on hold for over three hours before the ninth inning restarted.
Nebraska went down in order in the top of inning, and a base hit from Illinois had a runner on first with two outs. The next at-bat, a line drive was hit into left field and bobbled, forcing a throw home that was over the catcher's head. With that, Illinois walked it off almost eight hours after first pitch.
Bad response to delays
The first delay came at a horrible time for Nebraska as Jackson Brockett had his stuff going just two innings in, likely going more. However, with that behind them, the Huskers gave Koty Frank the ball and he kept the defensive momentum.
However, the offense went cold. In the five innings between the two delays, NU recorded just one hit and struck out six times.
Along with this, before the second delay, the Big Red were also letting the lead slip, and after it they once again let it slip.
The only time it looked like Nebraska was working the bats well was before the first delay, and after that, things went downhill.
Leading 4-3, Nebraska committed errors in the final two innings of this game that scored the two runs to put Illinois ahead.
Braxon Bragg caught a popped up sac bunt in the eighth inning that could have had a runner on first with one out. However, the throw to first for a double play was errant, putting a runner on second that was eventually driven in on a base hit. A base hit that likely wouldn't have scored him from first.
Once again in the ninth, with two outs and a runner on first, a base hit to left forced an NU error. The ball was bobbled in left, and Illinois sent the runner home. The throw home was over the head of the catcher, one that could have gotten him if it was placed well.
in a game where the offense had one big moment, the only was the Big Red would walk away victorious would be to keep it clean on defense.
Nebraska will take on Oral Roberts on Tuesday, followed by a three game series against Michigan State to close out the season.
All of those games can be streamed on B1G+, except Friday's game against MSU which will be on Nebraska Public Media. All four can be heard on the Huskers Radio Network.