OMAHA, Neb. - On a night when the Bluejays celebrated the 1991 College World Series Bluejay team, the 2011 Jays had a little magic of their own. Creighton (27-8, 6-1) put up two runs in the bottom of the 10th to defeat Southern Illinois (13-24, 4-3) 5-4 on Friday night. Chance Ross drove in the winning run on a blooper over the shortstop's head, scoring Alex Staehely from third base.
The first game of the series proved to be a pitchers duel early on, with both starting pitchers, Ty Blach for Creighton and Cameron Maldonado having career bests in strikeouts. In the first five innings of play, the game saw 18 strikeouts, nine by each starter, who each bested their career high of eight K's in a night through the first five innings.
Southern Illinios picked up the first hit of the night, a single by Brock Harding in the first inning. After Chris Murphy reach on an error to lead off the game, Blach recorded two straight strikeouts before Harding drove a single to center field to put runners on first and second early. Blach forced a ground out to Ross to end the inning with two Salukis on base.
The Bluejays picked up their first run in the third, thanks to a wild pitch on Erik Mattingly's third strike. Michael Mutcheson and Nick Judkins both walked, loading the bases for Jimmy Swift. After Swift popped up in foul territory, Trever Adams was hit by a pitch to force in the first run of the game.
Creighton added another run in the bottom of the fourth on Mike Gerber's solo home run. The freshman picked up the first homerun in TD Ameritrade Park Omaha history and gave the Jays the early 2-0 lead.
Blach continued strong into the seventh inning. He finished his outing with seven hits, two earned runs and nine strikeouts. SIU put up their first two runs, tying the game at two a piece after the sixth inning. The Salukis used three hits in the sixth, including back to back doubles by Austin Montgomery and Brock Harding to even the game.
Creighton answered in the bottom of the seventh with a single run thanks to an inning opening double by Ross. A Joey Bowens sacrifice bunt moved Ross to third before a Mutcheson sacrifice fly drove in Ross to again take the lead, 3-2 this time.
With one out in the top of the ninth SIU's Nick Johnson put a single through the left side to give the Salukis a fight. A flyout to Bowens left the Jays one out away from a win, but Jake Welch hit a double to the right center field fence, scoring Johnson from third and tying the game. The Salukis took the lead in the 10th when Wes Neece scored on a wild pitch by Reese McGraw, giving SIU the 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the 10th.
Creighton would win the game in the bottom of the 10th, their 14th come from behind win of the season. With one out, Adams was hit by a pitch for the second time on the night. He advanced all the way to third on Alex Staehely's second single of the night, this time to center field. Anthony Bemboom then ripped a double that plated Adams and put runners on second and third with just one out. SIU intentionally walked Gerber, bringing Ross to the plate. The junior third baseman blooped a ball right over the shortstop's head to plate Staehely from third, giving the Jays the 5-4 win.
McGraw picked up his fourth win of the season, while Tyler Dray fell to 1-1. Creighton was outhit 10-8 on the game, but was led by Staehely, Bemboom and Ross with two hits a piece.
The two teams will play again tomorrow at 2:00 pm from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
Quick Hits: Mike Gerber hit his fourth home run of the season on Friday night. The blast, a solo shot in the fourth inning, was the first home run in a game TD Ameritrade Park Omaha history. Gerber also has the distinction of hitting the first ball over the fence in batting practice, a rocket into the bleachers and over the bullpen in right field during Monday's open house... Trever Adams went 0-3 tonight, reaching base twice via hit-by-pitch, and breaking his 18-game hit streak, which was the longest in the Valley this season... The extra inning game markes the second in a row between the two teams, as SIU defeated Creighton 5-4 in 11-innings in the Sunday game last season... Creighton has now won in walk-off fashion in it's last three home wins (wins over Portland, Kansas State and now Southern Illinois)... Creighton now leads the nation in winning percentage in 1-run games, compiling a 13-4 record on the season... With the win, the Jays maintain their hold of first place in the MVC at 6-1.