Baseball Avoids Come Back Bid; Defeats Wichita State 7-5

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Courtesy: Eric Francis

WICHITA, Kan. - The Bluejays brought their bats to the park on Saturday, scoring seven runs on 13 hits to even the series with Wichita State with a 7-5 victory.  Creighton (32-11, 10-4) avoided the come back by the Shockers (29-22, 8-6), stranding two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth, thanks to back-to-back strike outs by Kurt Spomer, to solidify the win.

The Shockers got on the board first for the second straight game, putting up a single run in the first off Creighton starter Jonas Dufek.  Dufek recorded all three outs in the first via strike out, but allowed three hits to the top of the WSU order.  A double by Kevin Hall to left center followed by a pop fly that fell just between Alex Staehely going out from second and Trever Adams coming in from right put Shockers on first and second.  Dufek's second strike out of the inning was followed by a single to right field by Johnny Coy that scored the first run of the game.

The Jays threatened in both the second and third but stranded runners in both innings just 90 feet from the plate.  Anthony Bemboom picked up Creighton's first hit of the day, a two out double to left center in the second.  He advanced to third on a ground ball to the shortstop, safe thanks to an errant throw by WSU shortstop Tyler Grimes.  A strikeout ended the threat with runners on first and third. 

Back-to-back singles to lead off the the third for the Jays would be followed by a double play and fly out to strand two more.  Chance Ross picked up an infield hit on a bunt down the first base line and moved to second on Michael Mutcheson's single over the third baseman's head.  An error by WSU pitcher Brian Flynn on the sacrifice bunt attempt by Nick Judkins loaded the bases with no outs.  Swift then grounded into an unconventional 5-2-3 double play, forcing out Ross at home on the play.  A fly ball off the end of Adams' bat to deep left field ended the inning.

After Creighton's first 1-2-3 inning of the series, helped by two Dufek strike outs and a stab by Judkins at a ball in the 3-4 hole, the Jays put up their first runs of the series.  Alex Staehely led off the inning with the first walk of the game and was moved to second on Bemboom's sacrifice bunt.  Scott Thornburg scored Bemboom when he drove a double out to left center field.  It marks his sixth hit in 14 tries against the Shockers.  Creighton picked up it's second run when Chance Ross reached first on a strike out - wild pitch, scoring Thornburg.

The Shockers exchanged two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth to reclaim the 3-2 lead.  A lead-off walk to Coy followed by a sacrifice bunt and strike out left the Shockers with a runner on second and two outs.  Back-to-back doubles by Micah Green and Walker Davidson plated the two runs for WSU.

The Jays weren't finished, as they took back the lead thanks to a five run fifth inning, hightlighted by Staehely's third home run of the season.  Judkins led off the inning with a single to center field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Swift.  A single to center by Adams was followed by Staehely's blast, a three-run shot that put the Jays up 5-3.  Bemboom walked and scored on Thornburg's second double of the day, this time to right center.  Mike Gerber picked up his first hit of the day to drive in Thornburg, Creighton's seventh run, with a double down the left field line.

Dufek continued strong through the seventh, putting up three straight scoreless frames by the Shockers, allowing just two hits from the fifth through seventh innings.  Creighton brought in Jack VanLeur to start the eighth inning, ending Dufek's day with 7.0 IP, three earned runs on seven hits, walking just one batter while striking out 12.  VanLeur retired the only man he faced, a ground ball from Preston Springer for the first out in the eighth before Creighton brought in Reese McGraw. 

The Jays showed the confidence they have in the bullpen in the eighth, throwing four different pitchers (VanLeur, McGraw, Mark Winkelman and Kurt Spomer) to retire the Shockers in the frame.  McGraw came in with one out and allowed hits to Coy and Coughenour before the Jays put in Winkelman.   A line-out to Gerber and an RBI single to Ryan Hege brought in Spomer, who shut down pinch hitter Josh Halbert with a ground ball to Swift.

After the Jays were robbed of a three-run homer in the top of the ninth (a leaping catch off the wall by Green in left robbed Ross of his 2nd of the season), the Shockers came to bat in the bottom of the ninth and made things interesting.  A leadoff walk to Grimes followed by a single to center by Hall put runners on first and second with no outs.  A long fly ball, caught on the warning track by Adams in right, advanced Grimes to third.  Springer picked up his first hit of the day, an RBI single to right field, just over the stretched arm of Staehely at second.

Spomer retired Voy via the strike out, leaving WSU with two outs and runners on first and second.  A double steal put the tying run on second.  Spomer struck out Coughenour swinging, ending the game with two Shockers on base.

The two teams will play a rubber match tomorrow with first pitch set for 1:00 pm from Eck Stadium in Wichita.  Creighton will throw Greg Hellhake against Josh Smith for WSU.

Quick Hits: Creighton got their lead-off hitter on base in four of the first five innings, finishing with the lead-off batter reaching safely in six innings... Trever Adams extended his on-base streak to 27 games with a single in the fifth inning...  Scott Thornburg went 2-for-5 on the day with two doubles and two RBI.  The junior now holds a .389 career average against the Shockers (7-for-18)... Creighton's 7th run, scored in the fifth inning, became the most earned runs the Jays have scored on a WSU pitcher since May 24, 2006 against Aaron Shafer.  The Jays scored seven in that game, winning 11-8... Alex Staehely picked up his third home run of the season and just his first of the MVC season... All nine starting batters for the Bluejays picked up at least one hit for the Jays, marking just the second time this season they have done that.  Each starter in the March 16 game at Air Force picked up at least one hit... Jonas Dufek finished the game with 12 strike outs, the fourth time this season he has elipsed the 10-K mark in a start.  His career high is 13, which he threw in the 1-0 complete game against Valparaiso... Dufek moved into the all-time career charts with his strike-out numbers Saturday, as he now sits in 10th in career K's (209) and 10th in K's in a season (92).  He also picked up his 8th win of the season, 20th all time, moving him into a four-way tie for 7th on the all-time lists... Chance Ross picked up his first multi-hit game since going 2-for-5 against SIU on Friday, April 22 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha... Creighton is now 31-5 when scoring three or more runs in a game... The win is Creighton's first regular season win in Wichita since 2007.

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