Baseball Continues Arkansas Trip with Games at Central Arkansas

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Courtesy: Eric Francis
Creighton Baseball (9-2) at Central Arkansas (7-5)
Tuesday, March 8 - 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9 - 1:00 p.m.
Live stats available -

The Series
The two teams have only met one other time in history, a 3-2 Bluejay win last season at Central Arkansas.  In that game, after starting off scoring two runs in the top of the second, Creighton was held scoreless for five straight innings while Central Arkansas scored two runs of their own, evening the score at 2-2.  Creighton took the lead in the top of the eighth when Robbie Knight led off the inning with a solo homerun over the left field fence, giving Creighton the 3-2 decision.

Scouting the Bears
After starting off the season 6-0 with three-game sweeps over Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois, the Central Arkansas Bears currently sit at 7-5, including a 7-3 record when playing at home.  They outscored their opponents 48-28 in those first six wins, but have been outscored 45-21 in their last games, winning just one of the last six.  UCA is led offensively by Ethan Harris and Jonathan Houston, who have each started all 12 games and each own a .313 batting average.  Harris has a team high 15 hits on the season while Houston has racked up 20 total bases.  Bryan Willson has also been a lead contributor to the Bears offense, knocking in a team high 10 RBI with a .275 average.  Collectively the Bears have a .232 batting average with 69 runs scored on 86 hits.  UCA has also knocked out five home runs on the season, with five different players each having one.  Opponents have picked up 72 hits against the Bears while holding a .299 batting average against UCA.  The pitching staff is led by Ryan Angus and Evan Cox, who each hold a 1-1 record.  In 16.2 innings of work, Angus has allowed just six runs and struck out 16 batters.  He holds a 2.70 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .253 average.  Cox has a team high 18.1 innings pitched and has allowed 14 runs while striking out 16 batters as well.

Scouting Creighton
Creighton is off to one of the best starts in Bluejay history and certainly the best of Ed Servais' career, rolling to a 9-2 overall start, including a four game sweep over New Mexico (2010 participant).  The most recent start in Creighton history that was better was in 1999, when the team went 15-1 to open the season, including a 12 game win streak.  The Jays loss on Monday (8-6 to Arkansas State), snapped an eight game winning streak for Creighton, the longest since 2007.  The Jays are hitting .257 overall as a team this season, scoring 59 runs on 97 hits.  Creighton is led by sophomore Alex Staehely who is hitting .400 on the season.  He leads the team in average, hits (18), doubles (6), RBI (10), total bases (31) and stolen bases (4).  Trever Adams leads the team in home runs, knocking out two in the series last weekend with Arkansas State.  The Creighton defense is again one of the best in the country, with just 11 errors in the first 11 games and a .975 fielding percentage.  As a staff, the pitchers have combined for a 3.24 ERA in 100.0 innings pitched.  Ty Blach and Jonas Dufek lead the team with 18.0 innings pitched each, and holding 3.00 and 2.00 ERA's, respectively.  Dufek leads the team with 23 strikeouts, including a career high 11 against Canisius.  Junior Reese McGraw has three saves in seven appearances, earning National Pitcher of the Week honors on March 2. 

Creighton vs. the Southland
The Jays have a losing record against the Southland, with a 15-19 record against the league all-time.  The Jays won three of four games played against schools from the conference last season.  The Jays defeated Central Arkansas (3-2), Stephen F. Austin (9-8 in 10 innings) and Sam Houston State (6-5 in 10 innings).  Two days after defeating Sam Houston State, however, the Jays lost, falling 11-10.

Tossing Your Cookies
Head coach Ed Servais and Bluejay assistant Brandon Tormoehlen each got thrown out of the ball game on Monday.  After a called strike three, the two voiced their feelings on the call, resulting in an ejection from home plate umpire Steve Dew.  The last time Coach Servais has been thrown out of a game was at Evansville on April 4, 2009.

Going Yard
Bluejay senior Trever Adams had another good series against Arkansas State.  The right fielder went six-for-twelve in the two games, with two home runs (one to straight away center in the 6-0 win and the other off the scoreboard in right field in the 6-8 loss).  He also added a triple and beat out a drag bunt for an infield hit.

Bouncing Back
The 8-6 loss to Arkansas State on Sunday snapped the eight game winning streak the Jays had put together through the first ten games of the season.  The good news for the Jays - if history continues to repeat itself, in the 13 streaks of five wins or more in Ed Servais' career, the Jays have only lost multiple games after a streak four times.  That includes two losses after the most recent five game streak in 2008.

Last Time Out for Creighton
The Jays started out the 2011 Spring break trip to Arkansas with a two day rain delay.  The Jays and Red Wolves were rained out on Friday and Saturday before getting in three games with a double header Sunday and a single game Monday.  The Jays swept both games on Sunday, winning 5-2 and shutting out the Red Wolves 6-0 in the second game, but lost in a high scoring 8-6 game on Monday.
Creighton 6, Arkansas State 8
In the series finale between the two schools, the Jays and Red Wolves combined for 14 runs on 18 hits, but the Creighton offense couldn't overcome a seven run, second inning by ASU.  The Jays got on the scoreboard first, scoring three in the opening half inning.  A leadoff double by Michael Mutcheson set an early tone for the Jays.  Mutcheson was hit in by Jimmy Swift on a single, followed by a Trever Adams triple to make it 2-0 early.  Adams was knocked in on an Alex Staehely sacrifice fly. 

After giving up a run in the bottom of the first, Creighton came back and scored again in the top of the second.  Anthony had one of his two hits to lead off the inning and then stole second base (his second stolen base of the season).  Bemboom was advanced to second on a Chance Ross sacrifice bunt and then drove in when Mike Gerber grounded out to second. 

From there, the wheels on the Creighton pitching staff's bus fell off.  The Jays were roughed up for seven runs on five hits and gave up three walks in the second inning, giving Arkansas State the lead for good. Creighton starter Greg Hellhake was replaced half-way through the inning by Kurt Spomer, but the change did no good, as the Red Wolves scored five runs off Spomer.

The Jays tried to even the game out, but two solo home runs would be the closest they would get, with Staehely hitting one in the sixth (his first of the season) and Adams knocking his second of the series in the eighth.  Creighton relievers Jack VanLeur, Mark Winkelman and Chase Webb came in to combine for 6.0 innings of work, giving up no runs on just three hits and striking out eight. 

Last Time Out for Central Arkansas
The Bears were at home last weekend, welcoming another Missouri Valley Conference opponent in Indiana State.  Central Arkansas fell three games to one against the Sycamores, including being shut out 8-0 in the second game Saturday. 
Central Arkansas 6, Indiana State 5
In the series finale between the two schools, Central Arkansas looked for a way to steal one from the Sycamores, and they used 13 hits to do it.  The Bears beat Indiana State 6-5 in the Sunday finale, led by Ethan Harris with three hits, two runs and two RBI.

 Central Arkansas had to come back from an early 2-1 deficit, but did so by pushing four runs across in the fourth inning.  Freshman Jonathan Davis led off the inning with an infield single before stealing second.  Harris doubled to right field to score Davis and then Michael Pair got on base after being hit by a Sycamore pitcher.  Jonathan Houston (senior first baseman) then doubled to the gap in right center to score two more runs, followed by Travis Snider's RBI single to center to make it 5-2.

The Sycamores made the game interesting by adding single runs in the seventh and eighth, but Central Arkansas used solid pitching and defense to strand runners in both the eighth and ninth innings.

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