What a day of baseball.
Nebraska’s hopes of qualifying for the eight-team Big Ten Tournament took yet another shot Sunday in Champaign, Illinois, as the Fighting Illini walked off the Huskers, 5-4, in a wild game that featured two lengthy weather delays.
Sunday’s game started at 2 p.m. and ended at 9:48 p.m. The first weather delay lasted 95 minutes and happened in the bottom of the third inning with Nebraska leading 4-0 thanks to a two-out grand slam from Colby Gomes. The game resumed, but that was only good news for the Illini, who rallied to tie the game at 4-all in the bottom of the eighth.
The ninth inning was when the second delay happened, and it lasted much longer than the first—3 hours, 18 minutes. The contest didn’t begin again until 9:36 p.m.
Illinois was the team that responded the best coming out of the delays. Nebraska went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth while the Illini recorded back-to-back two-out singles off pitcher Corbin Hawkins. It was Justin Janas’ RBI hit to the left-center gap that was misplayed by the Husker defense, which allowed Branden Comia to score from first to end the game shortly after it was restarted.
Nebraska’s record in Big Ten play drops to 8-13. It came into the game tied for ninth in the conference with Northwestern. The Wildcats lost their Sunday game to Purdue, which improves to 9-10 and stays at eighth in the standings.
Up next for Nebraska is a 6:35 p.m. Tuesday home game against Oral Roberts (33-16, 15-6 in Summit League). After the battle with the Golden Eagles, the Huskers will host Michigan State (23-27, 7-14) for a three-game series at Haymarket Park beginning on Thursday at 6:35 p.m.
The Huskers grabbed the 4-0 lead in the top of the third with one swing off the bat of Gomes. After back-to-back two-out singles from Griffin Everitt and Max Anderson, the bases were loaded when Leighton Banjoff drew a walk. Gomes, the 6-foot-5 Millard West product, stepped to the plate and blasted the grand slam to center field that traveled an estimated 438 feet, according to the Husker Radio Network.
The game entered a weather delay in the bottom of the third that lasted 95 minutes. Koty Frank took over on the mound for Nebraska’s starting pitcher Jackson Brockett when the game resumed. Brockett, a freshman, threw two scoreless innings and walked two while allowing one hit.
Frank tossed four innings and struck out seven batters while allowing three runs and five hits. Braxton Bragg then came in relief in the seventh and inherited runners on first and third with no outs. Bragg initially did well by forcing an infield pop-up, but Illinois tacked on two runs with a sacrifice flyout and an RBI single. Bragg was able to limit damage and keep a 4-3 Husker advantage with a strikeout to end the seventh.
With the Husker offense continuing struggle—it was held scoreless for every inning except the fourth—the Illini tied the game at 4 with an RBI single from Cam McDonald in the eighth. Shortly after, the second weather delay happened.
The Huskers were outhit 10-6 in the loss and batted just .182 at the plate while Illinois hit .303. Both Gomes and Anglim went 2-of-4 at the plate. Everitt and Anderson each had a hit as well.