Strunc Flirts With No-Hitter As Baseball Tops SIU, 4-3
OMAHA, Neb. - Freshman ace Tommy Strunc took a no-hitter into the ninth inning and Jake Peter came on for the final three outs as Creighton Baseball opened a weekend series with Southern Illinois with a 4-3 victory on Friday, April 19th.
The contest marked the two-year anniversary of the first game played at the annual home of the Men's College World Series.
Strunc's no-hit bid was broken up on a single up the middle by Rennie Troggio on the first pitch of the ninth inning. Peter came on to pitch in relief and would surrender a double and home run before getting the final three outs to secure the victory.
Creighton improved to 20-9 with the win, and is now 6-4 in MVC play. Southern Illinois dropped to 18-19 on the year and is 2-8 in Valley play.
Strunc was dominant from the start, striking out the first five men he faced and mowing down seven of the first nine men via the strikeout. He was perfect through 3.2 innings before a walk to Mattt Jones, then proceeded to let his highly-skilled defense do much of the work behind him.
Strunc labored through a long seventh inning, stranding two men who reached via walks, before a 1-2-3 eighth. The first two men flied out on lazy fly balls before Jake Welch nearly broke up the no-hitter with a sharp line drive up the middle. Strunc knocked down the ball (which also knocked off his glove), then scampered behind the mound to retrieve the ball. He would whirl and throw to a stretching Landon Lucansky at first base to finish the eighth at 121 pitches.
After Troggio's single to open the ninth, Jones doubled to greet Peter. Austin Montgomery then turned on a Peter fastball to hit his fifth homer of the year into left and trim CU's lead to 4-3. Peter would settle down to retire the next three men in order.
"I had an idea of what was going on, but you can't think about things like that," Strunc told Creighton's radio crew postgame.
Creighton scored an unearned run in the bottom of the second inning when Lucansky scored on a a single by Kevin Lamb.
The Jays added three runs in the third inning when Alex Staehely's high fly ball curled just inside the left-field foul pole for his second homer of the season, making it 4-0. The home run scored Peter and Federico Castagnini as well.
Strunc threw a career-high 122 pitches in his eight innings of work, tying a career-high with eight strikeouts while also tying his high with five walks and allowing one run. Castagnini and Lamb paced the offense with two hits each.
Cody Forsythe fell to 1-3 with the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings of work while walking a season-high four men.
The Jays and Salukis will continue the series on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m. Saturday's contest will be televised live in Nebraska on NET, with CU's Nick Musec (0-4, 5.70 ERA) expected to face Derek Fogel (0-1, 3.48 ERA) on the mound.
NOTES: Alex Staehely now has hit both of Creighton two home runs at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in the past two years ...Staehely's three career homers at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha tie him with Trever Adams for the facility record ...Tommy Strunc's five straight strikeouts to start the game were last done by a Creighton pitcher on Feb. 20, 2010, by Jonas Dufek vs. SIU Edwardsville ...Creighton had allowed two ninth-inning runs all season before the three allowed tonight ...Creighton improved to 29-0 all-time when leading after eight innings at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.