Nebraska crushed four homers against Illinois to clinch the weekend series over the Fighting Illini with an 8-3 win at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers (13-7-1, 2-0 Big Ten) had eight runs on six hits and an error, while Illinois (10-9, 0-2) totaled three runs on 10 hits and two errors.
Jace Kaminska had his fourth consecutive quality start to move to 5-0 on the season. Kaminska allowed two runs on five hits and struck out four in six innings. Kyle Perry tossed one inning in relief, while Corbin Hawkins collected a career-high four strikeouts in two innings.
Six different Huskers recorded a hit on Saturday, with home runs by Brice Matthews, Dylan Carey, Gabe Swansen and Griffin Everitt. Charlie Fischer also had a hit, while Josh Caron recorded a hit and team-high two runs.
It took all of one pitch for the NU offense to get on the board, as Matthews slugged a first-pitch solo homer to left for his seventh home run of the season. Carey doubled the lead in the next at-bat with his third home run of the season, clubbing a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left field.
NU loaded the bases with two outs in the open frame after a walk to Caron, a single from Fischer and Ben Columbus reaching on an error. A wild pitch allowed Caron to sprint home to stretch the lead to 3-0.
A walk and a single placed runners on first and third with two outs for Illinois in the second, while a wild pitch trimmed the Husker lead to two in the second.
Illinois got within one in the third after a two-out solo homer to center from Branden Comia made it 3-2.
Columbus opened the bottom of the fourth by reaching a second time via the error, while a passed ball advanced him to third with no outs. Matthews tacked on his second RBI of the day by lifting a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Columbus and expanding the lead to 4-2.
A flyout and a pair of singles generated Illinois’ third run of the game in the top of the seventh to bring the Fighting Illini within 4-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
After allowing three hits in the first inning, the Illinois pitching staff combined to hold the NU offense hitless until bottom of the seventh inning with two outs. Caron ripped a single to center, before Swansen drilled a two-run homer to left to give the Huskers a 6-3 lead.
Nebraska hit back-to-back homers for the second time on Saturday afternoon, as Everitt followed Swansen with a first-pitch solo shot to left-center to give the Big Red a 7-3 advantage.
Back-to-back walks and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out, while Carey lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home Cole Evans and stretch the lead to 8-3.
Hawkins worked around two Illini singles in the ninth to preserve the series-clinching win for the Huskers on Saturday.
Nebraska and Illinois wrap up the series Sunday afternoon at Hawks Field. First pitch between the Huskers and Fighting Illini is set for 1:05 p.m.