Such a fun game right up until damned near the end.
Ryan Krill's homer left the park, left Target Field. You can see the celebration of his homer in the gallery, along with the expression on his face at the postgame press conference. He was asked about what he felt like watching the ball:
"Oh man, I’m not even sure. I blacked out during the whole thing. I just knew that I got it really well. I was just going up there just to find a fastball. I looked pretty bad at my three previous at bats on fastballs, so I kind of knew one was coming. I just guessed right, and I got ahold of it.
I was about to throw up when I got back to the dugout! I don’t know if I’ve ever hit a ball like that in that big of a spot in my whole life, so that was just awesome. I didn’t want that to be my last at bat as a Spartan, so I’m glad we were able to do that and the team can play on."
I was in the photography pit next to Nebraska's dugout for a large portion of the game, hence the photo of Kyle Kubat leaving the field for the final game as a Husker. He was disappointed in his outing. The look on his face as he left the field and in the postgame presser says it all.
The look upon Ben Miller's face upon leaving the field after pitching was one of devastation. The dugout was quieter.
Bring in Josh Roeder. He's only given up two walks all year, and hasn't given up a home run. He walks in a run, then gives up a grand slam. Erstad is right... baseball is a cruel game. After the grand slam, you could have heard a heartbeat in the dugout.
The postgame presser notes don't indicate it, but Darin Erstad re-iterated at least four times that "I have to get better at my job." They also don't include Erstad's explanation about bringing in Miller in which Erstad said they felt comfortable with Miller because he'd been in similar situations earlier in the season and performed well. I'm not sure why they left him in so long, but hindsight is 20/20.
PURELY SPECULATION ON MY PART:
This team didn't have great senior leadership... at least when it came to offensive production. Roeder, Kubat, and Chase Sinclair performed very well this season, and they will be tough to replace. The offense consistently let them down, and there didn't seem to be anyone who consistently brought them back, who was the fighter who refused to lose. That's from the outside looking in, mind you.
On using Miller - no one asked Erstad, but I have to wonder if they were saving their pitchers because they expected to win and their ultimate goal was to win the conference tourney and make the NCAA.
I say this because of this - Illinois' goal isn't to win this tourney. It's to host a NCAA regional. If they feel like they have to rest pitchers to attain that goal, they will.
BTW, the photos aren't in any specific order. I'm not sure why they import the way they do.