Illinois Baseball sat in fourth place in the Big Ten standings entering its final series of the regular season against Nebraska. With the potential to move anywhere from second to seventh in the final standings this weekend, the Illini needed to win some games.
And Illinois did just that, opening the series with a dominant 5-2 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Nebraska jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after a half inning of play when Illinois starter Cyrillo Watson got himself in early trouble. Illinois’ bullpen was in action in the first inning after Watson gave up three hits.
“Cyrillo did a great job coming back,” said closer Joey Gerber. “I thought he did real well the next couple innings.”
The Illini tied it up in the bottom half of the inning. Shortstop Ben Troike hit his second home run of the season.
Second baseman Michael Massey added a fifth-inning home run to put the Illini up 3-2, which ended up being enough for the victory. The Illini added two more runs in the sixth inning on RBI doubles by outfielders Doran Turchin and Jack Yalowitz.
Gerber picked up the save in the ninth inning, tying Tyler Jay’s all-time single-season record with his 14th in the process.
“It was on my mind a little bit after my save,” Gerber said. “I’m just looking for save opportunities. I haven’t thought too much about it to be honest. We’re just trying to make a regional right now.”
Illinois (30-17, 14-8 Big Ten) continues its series tomorrow night versus Nebraska at 6 p.m. Ohio State also sits at 14-8 in Big Ten play after defeating Michigan State 10-8 on Thursday night.
The Big Ten Tournament begins next Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska.