Huskers drop opener to No. 2 Illini

Needing a win against No. 2 Illinois to make the Big Ten tournament, Nebraska dropped their series opener on Thursday.

From Nebraska media relations department

Press Release:

Champaign, Ill. – On a rainy night at Illinois Field, the #2 Illinois Fighting Illini (44-6-1, 20-1 Big Ten) ran its nation-leading win streak to 25 games and clinched the 2015 Big Ten regular-season title with a 6-3 victory over the Nebraska baseball team (34-20, 9-13 Big Ten).

Freshmen Luis Alvarado and Scott Schreiber each had two hits on the night, including a pair of doubles from Alvarado. Illinois didn’t have one play with multiple hits on the evening, but its first eight batters each recorded a hit.

In his final regular-season start as a Husker, Chance Sinclair lasted 5.0 innings in the loss and fell to 6-7 on the year. Sinclair struck out five and only issued two walks, but gave up four runs on five hits. After giving up three hits to start the bottom of the first, Sinclair allowed only two hits the rest of the way, but one was a two-run homer in the fourth.

Illinois junior Kevin Duchene went 7.0 innings and picked up his 10th win of the season. Duchene allowed three runs on five hits and two walks, just his ninth and 10th walks of the season, while striking out four. The lefty entered the game with a 0.95 ERA and allowed a season-high three-earned runs to the Huskers. In his first 11 starts of the year, Duchene has allowed more than one total run only twice, and had allowed more than one earned run only once.

The Illini jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on three hits, including a leadoff double from Adam Walton. Illinois’ first three batters recorded hits, but then Sinclair settled in and kept the Illini from a big inning.

After going down in order in the first, the Huskers had their leadoff man on in each of the next three innings, including a leadoff double from Alvarado in the second, but each time Duchene kept the Huskers off the board.

Sinclair allowed one baserunner in the second and third innings combined, and had retired five straight before issuing a leadoff walk in the fourth to Jason Goldstein. After picking up his fourth strikeout of the day against Casey Fletcher, Pat McInerney doubled up Illinois’ lead with a two-run home run to left field. Sinclair retired the next two batters, but not before Illinois built a 4-0 lead through four.

Illini put together its third two-run inning of the night in the sixth to take a 6-0 lead. Will Krug drove in a run with a two-out single and then Illinois added a run on a ground ball to Blake Headley, who tagged out Krug on the play to end the inning, but David Kerian scored before the tag to put Illinois on top, 6-0.

The Husker offense came alive in the seventh, starting with a one-out single from Schreiber. Jake Meyers came in as a pinch hitter and worked a four-pitch walk off Duchene, just his ninth free pass allowed on the year. Headley then delivered the big blow of the inning with a home run off the scoreboard in right field, his second career homer off Duchene. Wes Edrington then worked a walk, marking only the second time this year Duchene has walked two batters in a game. With the top of NU’s lineup coming, Duchene put an end to the bleeding with back-to-back groundouts from Ryan Boldt and Jake Placzek.

King retired the Illini in order in both the seventh and eighth, but Nebraska just one hit off Illinois’ bullpen in the final two innings and lefty Tyler Jay earned his 11th save of the season in the win.

Game two of the three-game series between the two teams is scheduled for 6 p.m. tomorrow night and the game will be shown nationally on the Big Ten Network.

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