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Courtesy: Eric Francis

Baseball to Battle New Mexico on Sunday

Game 57 - Creighton Baseball Updated Notes
New Mexico Lobos (37-23) vs. Creighton Bluejays (27-29)
Sunday, June 3 - 3 pm Pacific (5 pm Central)

Game 58 (if Creighton wins Game 57)
Creighton Bluejays (28-29) at #2 UCLA (44-14)
Sunday, June 3 - 7 pm Pacific (9 pm Central)

-Creighton swept a four-game series from New Mexico last season in Albuquerque, winning games by scores of 4-3, 4-3, 10-6 and 8-7. CU trailed 2-0 in game one, 4-0 in game three and 6-0 in game four, only to rally each time. Scott Thornburg led the Bluejay offense by hitting .500 in the series, while Reese McGraw was named MVC and National Pitcher of the Week by after going 1-0 with two saves in 5.1 scoreless innings of work vs. the Lobos. Creighton is 7-10 all-time vs. New Mexico but has won five straight in the series vs. UNM, last falling on March 11, 1996 in Fresno, Calif., at the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic.

-Creighton's win vs. San Diego yesterday continued what's been a strong 2011-12 in some of its marquee sports. This is the first time ever that Creighton claimed NCAA Tournament wins in men's soccer, men's basketball and baseball in the same academic year.

-Sunday's probable starter (vs. New Mexico) for Creighton, Erik Mattingly, ranks ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 2.87 ERA. He's allowed three or fewer earned runs in all 16 of his appearances this season, which includes 11 starts. In his two years (20 appearances) at Creighton, the only team to effectively hit Mattingly was New Mexico on Feb. 27, 2011 in Albuquerque. Mattingly, who was making his Bluejay debut on the mound in that contest, was rocked to the tune of seven hits and six runs in 1.1 innings of work, but did not receive a decision after CU overcame an early 6-0 deficit to win, 8-7.

-Erik Mattingly has earned the victory in two of Creighton's biggest wins the past two years. He threw two scoreless innings of relief to help CU beat Missouri State and earn a spot in the 2011 MVC Tournament title game. Last week, he allowed just one earned run in six innings of work vs. Illinois State, which advanced CU to the 2012 MVC Tournament title game.

-Erik Mattingly has thrown 66.2 innings as a Bluejay, but surrendered only one home run, as Bradley's Jerrod Eigsti took him deep in the second inning on May 5, 2012.  His opponent on Sunday, New Mexico, owns 45 home runs this season.

-One player who might see time in long relief or in a spot starting role on Sunday is Andrew Urban. The junior from Lawrence, Kan., has not allowed a run in his last six outings, which covers 8.2 innnings of work. Urban, who began the year in the starting rotation, is 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings of work this year. He's had three outings of four or more innings, but none since throwing a season-high 5.2 frames to claim his only win vs. North Dakota on March 17th.

-Another possible option for long relief or a spot start is senior Brandon Koenigstein. Koenigstein, who was a fixture in CU's rotation as a freshman and sophomore, has made 25 career starts as a Jay and owns a career record of 12-6 with a 4.88 ERA. Koenigstein threw a seven inning no-hitter at Wichita State in the 2009 MVC Tournament to cap an outstanding freshman season.

-Anthony Bemboom tied a season-high with three RBI on Saturday. His 11 games with multiple RBI's tie him with Mike Gerber for the CU lead in that category. Last year Bemboom only had four games with two or more RBI.

-Chase Webb threw two perfect innings in Saturday's win vs. San Diego, striking out three men. In two career NCAA Tournament appearances, Webb has retired all eight men he has faced.

-Mark Winkelman made his MVC-leading 36th appearance of the season in Saturday's victory over San Diego. Winkelman's 36 appearances this season are tied for fourth-most in MVC history for one season, and just two behind the record of 38 set by Creighton's Pat Venditte (2007) and Wichita State's Jim Newlin (1989).

Winkelman's outing yesterday was also the 100th of the junior's career, making him the sixth player in league history to surpass the century mark, and first to do so as a junior.

-Nick Judkins went 3-for-4 in Creighton's win on Saturday, his team-high eighth game this year with three or more hits. Judkins also leads the team with 21 multiple-hit contests this spring. The senior first baseman's .311 batting average is his highest mark since April 21st.

-Creighton went 4-for-7 with the bases loaded yesterday vs. San Diego, and is now hitting .431 as a team (25-58) with the sacks full this year. Since May 8th, CU is 14-for-27 (.519) with the bases loaded, while the opposition is 0-for-4 with the bases loaded in those 15 games. Creighton's four hits with the bases loaded yesterday were its most since generating four such hits on May 9, 2007 vs. North Dakota State.

-Despite its 27-29 overall record, Creighton's pitching staff owns a 3.39 ERA. That figure would rank second-best in Ed Servais' nine-year tenure, trailing only the 3.35 ERA by last year's club. It's worth noting that after 56 games last year, Creighton owned a 3.44 ERA and a 42-14 record. Both the 2011 and 2012 teams had a .979 fielding percentage after 56 contests.

-One reason for Creighton's success during the MVC Tournament was its hitting with runners on base and with two outs, going 33-for-82 (.402) with men on base and 17-for-49 (.347) with two outs. In Friday's loss to UCLA, the Jays were 0-for-9 with runners on base, and were also 0-for-9 with two outs. Yesterday vs. San Diego, the Bluejays were 10-for-17 (.588) with runners on base and hit 5-for-10 (.500) with two outs.

-Creighton scored two runs in both the first and fifth innings during yesterday's victory vs. San Diego. The Jays have outscored foes 39-14 in the first inning this year, and 40-31 in the fifth inning. In the past 15 games, Creighton has outscored the opposition 10-2 in the first inning and 25-2 in the fifth frame. In the last nine years, Creighton is 150-47 (.761) under Ed Servais when scoring in the first inning, and 240-68 (.779) when scoring before its opponent.

-New Mexico boasts one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but history shows that if Creighton scores four runs, it will be successful vs. anybody. Creighton is 24-6 this year when scoring four runs or more, and 18-2 when plating six runs or more. Creighton is 281-71 (.798) under Ed Servais all-time when scoring four or more runs, a figure that skyrockets to 218-28 (.886) when scoring six or more, and is an absurd 154-7 (.957) when scoring eight or more.

-Creighton is seeking its first Regional finals appearance since 2005, when it went 2-2 in the Lincoln (Neb.) Regional. That team beat North Carolina State twice, but fell to host Nebraska twice.

At least one No. 4 seed has played in a Regional final in each of the previous six seasons. Most recently, Oral Roberts lost its opener and won its next three before falling to Dallas Baptist in the "if necessary" game last June.

Since 1999, the only No. 4 seeds to reach the Super Regionals have been Fresno State (2008) and Missouri (2006). Through two days of play, No. 4 seeds are 7-24 this year, with Stony Brook, Oral Roberts, Louisiana-Monroe, Austin Peay, Creighton, Fresno State and Missouri still alive, but 1-1. In addition, Army is 0-1 in the Charlottesville Regional entering Sunday.

-Creighton has very little in common with New Mexico. Fifth-year senior Michael Mutcheson was recruited to New Mexico Junior College by current New Mexico head coach Ray Birmingham, though he never played for him.

-Creighton is 5-1 in neutral-site contests this season, but has won its last five. The Jays are hitting .337 in those six neutral-site contests, while fielding at a .996 clip (one error in 230 chances). Creighton owns a 3.06 ERA in those six games as well.

-Despite an opening-round loss on Friday, Creighton still has reason to believe it can keep winning. Last season, both California and Connecticut lost its Regional opener before winning four straight to win their respective Regionals. Cal would eventually reach the College World Series.

-Creighton and Sacred Heart were the only two teams to enter NCAA Tournament play with a losing record. In the previous five tournaments, 13 teams entered the Regional round with a losing record. Of that grouping, only Utah (2-2 in 2009) won any NCAA Tournament contests. Creighton became the second team in that group to win a game, beating San Diego yesterday. Sacred Heart went 0-2 and has been eliminated.

-A win over New Mexico on Sunday afternoon would improve Creighton's record to 28-29, the first time its been within a game of .500 since it was 14-15 on Easter Sunday (April 8th). If CU could beat both UNM and UCLA on Sunday, CU will exactly .500 for the first time in exactly two months, as the Jays were 13-13 on April 3rd after a win vs. Kansas.

-Creighton's team is 2-0 in elimination games this year, having overcome 4-0 and 5-1 deficits to post an 8-6 win vs. Southern Illinois in last Saturday's MVC Tournament title game. Last year's club went 4-1 in elimination games. In two elimination games this season, Creighton is hitting .348 as a team, and hasn't made an error defensively. Chance Ross is 5-for-8 (.625) in those two elimination contests, while fellow senior Nick Judkins is hitting 4-for-7 (.571).

-Creighton has laid down at least one sacrifice bunt in each of its last 13 games, and now owns 73 sacrifice bunts this season. While an impressive figure for most programs, the 73 bunts is "just" an average season in the Ed Servais era, as his clubs have averaged 75.2 sacrifices per season in his nine-year tenure.

-Creighton has made just one error in its last seven games, a miscue that came on a poor exchange while trying to turn a double play vs. Illinois State on May 24th. In those seven games, CU has fielded at a .996 rate. In 15 games during the MVC and NCAA Tournaments during the past two years, the Jays have just five miscues.

-Creighton is still playing on June 3rd thanks to some clutch play in the past two weeks. The Jays are 5-1 since the start of the MVC Tournament, hitting .318 and owning a 2.72 ERA. CU's left-handed hitters have led the way, as Mike Gerber (.458), Brennan Murphy (.421) and Nick Judkins (.417) are all hitting .400 or better in this stretch, while combining for 20 runs and 14 RBI in that span.

-Creighton's 8-2 win on Saturday eliminated San Diego, ending the Toreros' season with a 40-17 mark. It was the first time since May 26, 2007 that the Jays defeated a team with 40 or more wins. On that night, Creighton won its first MVC Tournament title with a 10-9, 12-inning win over a Wichita State team that entered the game with a 49-18 record.

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