Junior Emmett Olson threw a career-high 10 strikeouts against Illinois to propel the Huskers to a series-opening 8-4 win in front of a season-high crowd of 5,626 at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park on Friday night.
Nebraska (12-7-1, 1-0 B1G) scored eight runs on 12 hits and an error, while Illinois (10-8, 0-1 B1G) had four runs on six hits and two errors.
Olson improved to 4-1 on the season, allowing four runs on six hits while issuing zero walks. Shay Schanaman picked up his second save while pitching two hitless innings with a pair of strikeouts.
Cole Evans recorded his second three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs. Casey Burnham and Dylan Carey posted two-hit games, while Max Anderson was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer. Brice Matthews, Josh Caron, Griffin Everitt and Ben Columbus recorded one hit apiece.
Olson retired the Fighting Illini in order to begin the game, while the NU offense jumped out to a five-run lead in the open inning. Matthews led off with a walk, and Carey singled through the left side to set up Anderson’s three-run homer down the right-field line to give the Big Red a 3-0 advantage before the first out.
The Huskers tacked on two more runs in the first with a trio of two-out hits. Everitt and Columbus reached on singles, while Evans’ two-RBI double to the gap in right-center scored the pair.
Illinois trimmed the lead to two in the third with three runs on four hits. Back-to-back singles, followed by a wild pitch placed runners on second and third with no outs. Connor Milton’s two-RBI single to left plated Illinois’ first runs, while an RBI single by Branden Comia two batters later made it a 5-3 game.
Evans and Burnham had back-to-back one-out singles in the fourth, before Matthews’ RBI single through the left side allowed Evans to score and stretch the lead to 6-3.
The Fighting Illini got the run right back in the next half inning on Comia’s second RBI single of the night in the top of the fifth.
A pair of errors from Illinois placed Columbus and Burnham in a runners on first and third situation with one out, setting up Matthews’ RBI groundout to second that expanded the lead to 7-4 in the sixth.
Olson retired the side in the seventh, and Schanaman shut down Illinois in the eighth to maintain the three-run lead for the Big Red. The Huskers added their final run with three hits in the bottom of the eighth. Evans and Burnham reached on consecutive one-out singles, while Carey laced an RBI single to left field that brought home Evans.
Schanaman sat down the Fighting Illini with a flyout and a pair of strikeouts to clinch the series-opening win for the Huskers.
Nebraska and Illinois continue the series tomorrow afternoon at Hawks Field. First pitch between the Huskers and Fighting Illini is set for 2:02 p.m.