Baseball Soars Past Illinois State 8-2

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Michael Mutcheson
Courtesy: David Schofield

NORMAL, Ill. - The Creighton offense started off the day right, putting up a run in the first and then was given strong pitching performances by both starter Jonas Dufek and reliever Kurt Spomer to give the Jays (21-7, 1-1) their first MVC win and an 8-2 victory over Illinois State (21-8, 1-1).

The Jays again scored first, putting up one in the top of the first inning.  Michael Mutcheson led off the game with a double down the left field line, just ripped past the diving third baseman.  Nick Judkins then stood in, looking to put down a sacrifice bunt.  He pulled a bunt down the first base line and then beat out the pitcher, safe with an infield hit.  With runners on first and third, Jimmy Swift hit into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Mutcheson from third.

Jonas Dufek was the big story for the Jays in the early innings.  He continued his dominance on the mound this season, sitting down batters and getting himeself out of jams.  Dufek struck out eight Redbird batters in the first four innings and allowed just two hits.  In the second inning, after striking out the first two batters, Dufek got in a jam with two walks sandwiching a single to load the bases.  Dufek struck out Josh Colon to end the inning, as he had done to three other Redbirds to end innings in the first four innings. 

Creighton struck again in the top of the fifth inning, scoring three runs on three hits, chasing starting pitcher Brad Sorkin off the mound with the bases loaded and just one out.  After a fly ball to lead off the inning, Mutcheson picked up his second hit of the day, a single to left field.  Judkins then ripped a single through the right side, putting runners on first and third.  Swift walked to load the bases before Trever Adams knocked in two runs with a single through the left side, putting Swift on third and Adams at first.  A walk to Alex Staehely followed by a fielders choice on an attempted double play allowed Swift to score.  The Jays led 4-0 after five complete innings.

Dufek continued his dominance on the mound through the fifth.  With the help of a double play turned by the middle infield, the starter retired the Redbirds three-up, three-down in the fourth and fifth innings.  Dufek picked up one more strike out in that time, forcing three ground balls and a pop up to retire the side.

In a game that was heated and intense from the warm-ups on, the intensity spiked in the Jays at bat in the top of the sixth inning.  After Mike Gerber led off the inning with a double to the left center field gap, the third leadoff double of the day for the Jays, Joey Bowens turned to sacrifice bunt.  A pitch came just a little too far inside and Bowens trotted down to first base, clinching his right hand.  Home plate umpire Todd Olinger ruled it a foul ball, requesting Bowens to come back to the plate.  On the very next pitch, Bowens was drilled in the sternum, bringing on words from both sides.  With the first bench warning of the season, the two teams continued to play ball, as the Jays loaded the bases for Adams for the second time in the day.  Adams ripped a ball to the left center field gap, looking like it would bring in three.  Redbird centerfielder made a diving catch, over his shoulder at the warning track, to end the Jays threat.  Jays still led 4-0 after six.

Dufek shut the Redbirds out in the bottom of the sixth in order, but found himself in a little trouble again in the seventh.  Tyler McNeely led off the inning with a single to left field and was advanced on a ground ball put out from Judkins to Dufek covering at first.  Dufek then walked catcher Matt Mirabal to find runners on first and second and one out.  A grounder took a rough hop on Judkins at first, scoring McNeely from second and again putting runners on first and third.  A double by David Fallon pushed across the second run, bringing the score to 4-2.  The Jays brought in Kurt Spomer, who forced a pop-out to Staehely and a strike out to end the threat with runners on second and third.  Dufek finished the day with another dominating performance, going 6.1 innings, striking out nine and allowing two earned runs on four hits.

Creighton answered in the top of the eighth.  A lead off single by Gerber was followed by his fifth stolen base of the season.  Brad McKewon then popped out to the second baseman.  Mutcheson and Judkins then walked, each reaching base for the fourth time in five appearances at the plate on the day.  With the bases loaded, Swift worked the count to 3-2 before drawing his fourth pree pass of the day, one hit by pitch and three walks. 

The Redbirds then brought in Matt Werderitch to pitch against Adams, who came to the plate again with the bases loaded for the third time in the game.  Adams delivered again, this time driving a three run triple to right center field.  He picked up RBI 37-39 on the season to continue his RBI terror in the last seven games, driving in 21 of the 43 runs scored in that time.

Spomer came in to close and finish out the game, retiring the eight the Redbirds in order to finish the game.  He picks up his second save of the season for the Jays.

Creighton finished the game with 11 hits, led by Adams with three, while Mutcheson, Judkins and Gerber each picked up two of their own.  They also left 11 runners on base as a team, which ties a season high.  Adams drove in five for the second time this season, both in the last three games.  Dufek picks up his fifth win of the season, improving to 5-0.  He now has a team high 61 strike outs on the season.

The two teams will play the third game of the series tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. from Duffy Bass Field.  The rubber match will pit Greg Hellhake for the Jays against Ryan Camp for the Redbirds.

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