LINCOLN, Neb.- The Nebraska baseball team (23-15, 12-5 Big Ten) bounced back and tied the series with a 4-3 walk-off win over Illinois at Hawks Field on Saturday afternoon.
Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Aaron Palensky was hit-by-pitch in the leadoff spot before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jaxon Hallmark. Cam Chick drew a walk to put two runners on with one out for the Big Red. Junior Joe Acker drove an RBI single through the left side to bring in Palensky for the winning run. It marked Nebraska’s first walk-off win since May 7, 2017 when the Huskers defeated Rutgers, 7-6.
Senior left-hander Nate Fisher, making his 10th start of the season, went 6.0 innings and allowed three runs over the first three innings before holding the Fighting Illini scoreless for the middle three innings. Robbie Palkert tossed 3.0 no-hit shutout innings en route to his third win of the season.
Illinois (27-14, 7-7 Big Ten) struck first with two runs in the opening frame. The Fighting Illini strung together three hits and left two runners on in the top of the first. Nebraska scored one run in the bottom of the second to cut the score to 2-1. Acker drew his first of three walks on the day before stealing second. Angelo Altavilla and Mojo Hagge each walked to load the bases before Colby Gomes’ sacrifice fly drove in one run.
Illinois responded in the top of the third when Zac Taylor hit a leadoff home run to center field to make the score 3-1. In the bottom of the fourth, the Huskers plated one run to trim the deficit to 3-2. Gomes blistered a one-out double and then later scored on Palensky’s RBI single.
NU tied the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Hallmark and Cam Chick drew back-to-back walks to start the inning before Acker’s sacrifice bunt advanced them to second and third. Altavilla’s sacrifice fly brought in Hallmark.
The rubber match is set for Sunday at 11:05 a.m. (CT) at Hawks Field. It is “Love 4 Laney & Katie” Day as the first 1,000 fans into the game will get a T-shirt as part of Organ Donor Awareness Day.