Joe Acker’s walk-off single leads Husker baseball to a Big Ten win over Illinois

LINCOLN — Joe Acker’s tie-breaking single with one out in the bottom of the ninth gave Nebraska a 4-3 victory over Illinois on Saturday at Haymarket Park.

With runners on first and second and a full count, Acker grounded a ball past a diving Grant Van Scoy at third base and into left field. Aaron Palensky rounded third and slid headfirst across the plate as outfielder Cam McDonald’s throw pulled catcher Jeff Korte up the third-base line.

The victory keeps the Huskers (23-15, 12-5) in third place in the Big Ten, behind Michigan and Indiana and one game ahead of Iowa.

It was the first time the Huskers won in their last at-bat since May 2017.

Nebraska trailed 3-1 but rallied to tie it on Angelo Altavilla’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Robbie Palkert earned his third win of the season by pitching three perfect innings of relief. Palkert needed just 31 pitches to retire all nine batters he faced.

Senior left-hander Nate Fisher allowed three runs in six innings. The Yutan graduate struck out three and walked two.

Illinois scored twice in the first, but Fisher kept the Huskers within two runs after Illinois (27-14, 7-7) put runners at second and third with one out in the fourth. Fisher struck out Ben Troike and Michael Massey to end the threat.

After giving up 17 hits in Friday’s loss, Nebraska limited the Illini to seven Saturday.

First baseman Colby Gomes had a double, his eighth of the season, and Palensky drove in his 23rd run.

The Illini took a first-inning lead for the second straight game as Kellen Sarver singled home a run with one out, and Zac Taylor scored on McDonald’s sacrifice fly.

Nebraska made it 2-1 in the second on Gomes’ sacrifice fly. But Taylor led off the third with a homer that gave Illinois a 3-1 lead.

Gomes doubled to left-center with one out in the fourth, moved to third on a groundout and Palensky lined a 3-2 pitch from Nathan Lavender into left field to score Gomes.

Palensky later scored the winning run as the Huskers ended a modest two-game losing skid.

Nebraska goes for the series win at 11:05 a.m. Sunday at Haymarket Park. Reece Eddins (4-2, 3.86 ERA) is expected to start for the Huskers. The game will be carried live on Otoe County Country (KNCY 1600 AM, 105.5 FM).

The senior right-hander is coming off one of his strongest starts of the year last Sunday, when he scattered four hits and a run in seven innings of a 3-2 road win over Iowa.

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