Huskers See Win Streak Snapped with 10-8 Loss
Ryan Hampe's two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth broke an 8-8 deadlock, as Illinois snapped Nebraska's seven-game win steak with a 10-8 victory Saturday night.
The Huskers (12-5) belted four homers and battled back from 5-1 and 8-6 deficits, only to see the hosts regain the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth against NU reliever Max Schreiber (1-2).
Branden Comia opened the frame with an infield single before coming home two batters later, as Hempe lofted a two-run homer to left to break the tie for Illinois, which improved to 8-9 and snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Huskers threated in the ninth against Illinois reliever Jack Crowder (1-0), who earned the win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. Leighton Banjoff's one-out single got the tying run to the plate, but Crowder, who got Illinois out of a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth, struck out Jack Steil and Brice Matthews to even the weekend series.
Max Anderson, who has seven hits on the weekend, had a career-high four hits as part of a 4-for-5 effort while Joe Acker and Steil both homered and scored twice in a losing effort.
Cam McDonald went 3-for-5 with three RBI, while Justin Janas has three hits and scored three times for the winners.
Illinois struck quickly, scoring four times in the bottom of the first against Husker starter Chance Hroch, highlighted by Jackson Raper's two-run shot and a two-out double from McDonald.
The teams traded runs in the third, as Acker's second homer of the season got NU on the scoreboard before another McDonald two-out RBI pushed the Illini advantage to 5-1.
Nebraska's offense came alive in the fifth, using back-to-back homers from Spencer Schwellenbach and Cam Chick as part of a five-run outburst to take a 6-5 lead. The Huskers got the first two runners on after Steil singled and Efry Cervantes was hit by a pitch. Acker's sacrifice bunt moved both runners to scoring position before Jaxon Hallmark walked to load the bases. Schwellenbach deposited Ty Rybarczyk's 0-1 pitch over the fence in left for his second homer of the season. Chick gave the Huskers their first lead of the day moments later with his fifth homer of the season, a blast over the wall in center.
The Huskers' lead would be short lived, as Illinois came back with a pair of runs to regain the lead at 7-6. After loading the bases on a pair of singles sandwiched around a Husker error, McDonald tied the game with his third RBI of the day, a single to left, before Brody Harding pushed across the second run of the frame with a run-scoring single two batters later.
Illinois used some two-out hitting in the sixth to push its lead to 8-6, as Kellen Sarver's RBI double to center scored Janas, who scored from first.
The Huskers fought back with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Steil opened the frame with his third homer of the season. Acker came through with a one-out double and scored on Jaxson Hallmark's single to left.
NU had a chance to regain the lead with two outs and two on as Crowder was brought into face Anderson, who already had four hits on the day. NU executed a double steal to move both runners into scoring position, but Crowder fanned Anderson to end the scoring threat.
The three-game series wraps up on Sunday with the rubber match slated for Noon (central). The game will be carried on the Learfield IMG College Husker Sports Network and available online on BTN Plus.