Baseball Wins 7-6 Over Kansas State in Walk-Off Fashion

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Mike Gerber
Courtesy: David Schofield

OMAHA, Neb. - In the final game played on the baseball diamond at the CU Sports Complex, the Creighton (23-7, 2-1) baseball team picked up their 23rd win, scoring one in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Wildcats (18-13, 4-8) of Kansas State 7-6 on Tuesday. Creighton has now defeated all three of the 2010 NCAA Tournament teams on their schedule, going 7-1 against the three schools (New Mexico, Illinois State, Kansas State).  The win ended the Bluejays 23-year run at the CU Sports Complex, finishing their final season 9-1 when playing at their on-campus home.  The Jays move into their new home at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha next Tuesday, April 19.

The first two innings proved to be a pitchers duel, with Creighton starter Brandon Koenigstein striking out three batters looking in the first seven batters, only allowing one hit the first round through the order.  On the contrary, the Bluejays offensively were baffled by starter Justin Lindsey, who also allowed just one hit the first time through the order, striking out two of the first seven Jays.  Kansas State got on the board first, pushing across a run in the top of the third inning.  With one out, Dan Klein reached on a throwing error by Jimmy Swift.  Tanner Witt then drew the first walk of the game, putting runners on first and second with one out.  Jake Brown then singled through the right side, scoring Klein before a 6-4-3 double play ended the inning.

The Wildcats added single runs in the fourth and fifth, off Koenigstein and Nick Musec, respectively, to grow the lead to 3-0.  Two singles in the fourth inning, one by Jason King and one by Mike Kindel, gave KSU their second run before a solo home run by Mitch Meyer in the fifth put the Wildcats ahead 3-0. 

Creighton continued to struggle offensively through the fourth, with Alex Staehely picking up a single in the third before the Jays went 1, 2, 3 in the fourth.  The Bluejays finally caught on in the fifth inning, putting two runs on the board with the help of pinch-hitter Jordan Makovicka.  With one out, Makovicka picked up his sixth hit of the season, bouncing a ground rule double to right field.  Mike Gerber then sent another ball over the fence, this time on the fly, knocking out his second home run of his career, bring the score to 3-2 KSU.

As is true in a midweek game, the Jays brought in another pitcher in the sixth, this time it was lefty Jack VanLeur.  After allowing a lead off double to Nick Martini (extending his NCAA streak of reaching base to 91 consecutive games), VanLeur struck out the next three batters to end the inning.  The Bluejays added another run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at three.  With two outs, Trever Adams drove a ball out to right field, landing it between the second baseman and the right fielder.  Adams headed for second after hustling out of the box, and then took third after the second baseman couldn't grasp the ball.  Anthony Bemboom then drove a ball through the right side to tie the game.

Kansas State added another run in the top of (what proved to be) a wild seventh to regain the lead, 4-3.  A leadoff double knocked VanLeur off the mound and brought in Reese McGraw for one batter (a sacrifice bunt) and Mark Winkelman.  With a runner on third, Winkelman forced a ground out, but then an error on Bluejay second baseman Alex Staehely scored the equalizing run.

The Jays answered right back, taking the 6-4 lead after seven.  Makovicka again got things started, leading off the inning with a single back up the middle.  He advanced to second on a wild pitch by then pitcher Tyler Sturges.  Gerber walked, putting runners on first and second.  Chance Ross laid down a bunt, and would end up on third after a throwing error sent the ball into right field.  Makovicka and Gerber both scored on the play.  Staehely then walked before Nick Judkins reached safely on a fielders choice, scoring Ross from third.  An intentional walk to Adams and a strikeout to Bemboom ended the inning. 

Creighton's bullpen again held onto the lead until the ninth inning, with Winkelman ending the seventh and going three up, three down in the eighth.  The Wildcats had upset thoughts in the ninth, when Mike Kindel led off with a walk and then Wade Hinkle hit his first home run of the season over the left field fence.  Creighton brought in the weekend hero Kurt Spomer to close out the game, allowing just one hit and stranding the runner on third base to end the top of the ninth, tied 6-6.

With the game tied going into the bottom of the ninth, Judkins was hit by pitch and advanced to second on a Swift sacrifice bunt.  Adams was intentionally walked for the second time on the day and then followed by a Bemboom single to center field to load the bases.  Joey Bowens stood in, batting for the first time on the day, and watched three straight balls to start the at-bat.  After two strikes down the middle, Bowens let a ball low and inside go past, trotting down to second and forcing in the winning run in as Judkins scored. 

Creighton finished the day with nine hits, walking seven times and striking out six.  The Jays used six pitchers on the day, with Kurt Spomer picking up his second win of the season.  Creighton improves to 23-7, 2-1 heading into the weekend series at Indiana State.  The Jays and Sycamores will play three, starting with the 6:00 pm game on Friday, April 15.

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