LINCOLN — It was an odd and unexpected way to win a game, but Rhonda Revelle was not complaining.
Nebraska clinched the No. 3 seed for next week’s Big Ten tournament with an 8-0, five-inning victory Friday against Illinois in front of 643 fans at Bowlin Stadium.
The Huskers improved to 16-5 in conference games and 31-19 overall. Illinois (25-25, 13-8) is battling Northwestern for the No. 4 seed and a first-round tournament bye.
The first three innings were a pitchers duel between the league’s highest-scoring teams.
NU’s Emily Lockman had a perfect game to that point and Illinois ace Jade Vecvanags had faced one batter over the minimum.
Then came the fourth inning.
Vecvanags gave up four walks, hit another batter and was tagged for three hits as the Huskers sent 13 to the plate and scored all eight of their runs.
“I felt like both offenses came out a little tight,” Revelle said. “Those are two high-octane offenses, but give credit to both pitchers hitting their spots. Emily did a phenomenal job.”
Lockman (15-12) gave up just two hits and one walk despite battling a cold.
“I was just working both sides of the plate and let my defense get the outs for me,” said the junior from Corona, California. “Sometimes I try to do a little too much. I’m a thinker; I’m always thinking about the game.”
Shortstop Alicia Armstrong started the big inning when she was hit by a pitch with one out. The junior from Beatrice capped it with a bloop, three-run double as the Illinois shortstop, second baseman and center fielder couldn’t get to the ball in time.
“That was the shortest double I’ve ever hit,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong, like Revelle, said much of the credit for the win goes to Lockman.
“She was lights out from the beginning,” Armstrong said. “She just kept pounding the mitt.”
The Huskers have won five of their past seven games by run rule. Friday’s win also was the 20th time the Huskers have scored at least five runs in one inning and the sixth time they’ve scored eight or more.
Nebraska also bettered the school record for RBIs of 325 set in 2014. With two regular-season games remaining, the Huskers have 331 RBIs.
The three-game series continues at 1 p.m. Saturday, with the final game set for noon Sunday.
Illinois (25-25, 13-8) ........................................... 000 00—0 2 1
At Nebraska (31-19, 16-5) ................................... 000 8x—8 4 0
W: Lockman, 15-12. L: Vecvanags, 18-11. 2B: I, Thomas. NU, Armstrong. Att.: 643.
Contact the writer: