CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Creighton used a pair of three-run homers to overcome a pair of deficits while posting a 6-5 victory over Evansville in the first game of the 2012 State Farm MVC Softball Tournament.
Creighton improved to 28-24-1 with its fourth victory over UE this year, while the Purple Aces end their season at 18-37. CU advances to play fourth-seeded and tournament host Southern Illinois in a scheduled 4 pm start later today. The game will have a free video webcast at http://www.valley-live.tv.
Evansville took advantage of some early wildness by Becca Changstrom to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning before even recording an out. A lead-off walk, followed by a single, preceded back-to-back hit batsmen that forced in the first run. Amy Gaertner then doubled off the right-field wall, making it 3-0. A 12-minute delay after an injury to home plate umpire Larry Nagel seemed to help calm down the Purple Aces offense, as Changstrom struck out Brianna Villanueva and Halie Malone to escape further damage in a 31-minute, 49-pitch first inning.
Creighton tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Alexis Cantu was drilled in the back with Sarah Patterson's first pitch of the inning. Amy Baker followed with a single to center before freshman Bri Lingl hooked her 10th home run of the season just inside the left-field foul pole.
Evansville reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth inning when Niki Rahming's single to left scored Kacey Rogers in a close play at home just a few pitches after UE coach Mark Redburn had inserted the speedy runner at second base as a pinch-runner for Kayla Fortner.
CU had a good scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fifth after two-out singles by Allie Mathewson and Cantu, but Baker's liner down the right-field line was snagged on a leaping grab by first baseman Victoria Dellorto.
CU took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning with a clutch two-out home run by Christa Ruf that proved to be the game-winner. Lingl singled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a one-out throwing error following Changstrom's infield single. But UE starting pitcher Patterson re-entered to attempt to put out the fire, getting Brittnie Kreiser to foul out to bring up Ruf. Ruf worked a 2-2 count and fouled off a few balls before rocketing her third home run of the year, a blast to right-center.
The Aces didn't go quietly in the seventh, as Allison Aguilera and Amy Gaertner opened with consecutive singles, then advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from Changstrom. Rahming plated Aguilera on a sacrifice fly to make it 6-5, before Victoria Dellorto fouled out for the second out. Changstrom then struck out Villanueva for the final out.
NOTES:Ashley Frutos made her first appearance since April 1st, starting at second base. She had been sidelined with a broken collarbone ... Becca Changstrom entered the game having thrown three shutouts in four career starts vs. Evansville, allowing three runs total in 28 innings of work ... Ellen Homan extended her hitting streak to 12 wiht a single in the third inning ... Bri Lingl's 10 homers lead all MVC freshmen, and her 43 RBI are tied for fourth-most in CU single-season history ... Creighton is 18-3 since 2003 in one-run games at the MVC Tournament, including six of its last seven victories ... Each of the last five times CU and UE have met in the MVC Tournament, at least one of them has made the final ... Creighton is playing as a fifth seed for the first time ... Creighton improved to 21-3 when scoring five or more runs this year ... Three of Christa Ruf's nine career home runs have come vs. Evansville ... This was Creighton's third comeback victory after being down three or more runs this year, with two coming at Charlotte West Stadium ... Creighton is now 7-3 all-time vs. UE in the MVC Tournament, and 3-1 with one title in games played in Carbondale.
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Creighton meets Villanova in a 16 inning thriller on the softball diamond.