Max Anderson had four RBIs and starting left-hander Emmett Olson threw 6.2 innings of two-run baseball to help Nebraska beat Illinois 11-2 Saturday afternoon to even the three-game series with the Fighting Illini.
Sunday’s rubber match is set for a 2 p.m. first pitch.
One day after batting .188 as a team in Friday’s 8-1 loss, the Husker offense hit .324 while collecting 12 hits and three home runs in Saturday’s win. Big Red did well at the plate leading off (.444), when there were two outs (.333) and with runners in scoring position (.364)—all those marks were better than what the Illini recorded.
Griffin Everitt led the Huskers in the batter’s box, going 3-of-5 with one RBI. Cam Chick, Garrett Anglim and Anderson all had two hits, with Chick, Anderson and Colby Gomes all homering.
Olson, a big 6-foot-4, 230-pound second-year player from Illinois, struck out six of his home-state batters and walked just one. He allowed seven hits and two runs. The Illini were held scoreless for the first five innings and struggled to get Olson out of his groove. Illinois hit just .176 with runners on base, and it stranded seven in the loss.
Because Olson worked into the seventh inning, that saved the bullpen and kept reliever Koty Frank from a high pitch count, which might make him available for Sunday’s game, though Jackson Brockett, a freshman from Omaha, is an option as well and didn’t throw Saturday.
Frank tossed 1.1 scoreless innings and only 17 pitches in the win. Freshman Corbin Hawkins finished the game, throwing one scoreless inning.
Anderson gave Nebraska a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Following a leadoff plunk of Chick, Anglim and Everitt grounded out and lined out, respectively. But Anderson, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run shot over the center-field wall with two outs. That was Anderson’s then-team-leading eighth home run of the season.
The longball trend continued in the fourth as Gomes hammered a leadoff solo shot to left-center to put the Huskers up 3-0. Anderson came through for his team again shortly after that in the fifth. After back-to-back singles from Anglim and Everitt, Anderson slapped a two-run double to the left-center gap that plated both runners to push the Husker lead to 5-0.
Chick blasted his team-tying eight homer of the year in the sixth to give his squad a 7-0 edge, this one being a two-run shot that also scored freshman Josh Caron, who drew a walk. Illinois got one run back in the bottom half of the frame, but a balk from Illini pitcher Ryan O’Hara moved the Huskers to an 8-1 lead.
Nebraska continued to pour it on the Illini in the eighth. Everitt hit an RBI single while Gomes had an RBI pop-up to the first-base foul territory thanks to good base running from Anderson at third. Luke Sartori, who doubled earlier in the inning, easily scored from third after a wild pitch from Illinois pitcher Gavin Schmitt.
Nebraska improves to 20-28 overall and moves its Big Ten record to 8-12.