Baseball Ends Season in 13-5 Loss to UCLA

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Anthony Bemboom finished 5-5 in the title game Sunday
Courtesy: Eric Francis

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Creighton baseball team made it to the finals of the Los Angeles Regional, but the late-season magic ran out as No. 2-ranked UCLA claimed a 13-5 win over the Bluejays on late Sunday night.  Creighton ends its season at 28-30, the final MVC team left standing in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Creighton out-hit the Bruins 12-11 on the day, led by Anthony Bemboom's 5-for-5 day from the plate. The senior catcher drove home a pair and scored once while becoming the first Bluejay since Carson Vitale in 2010 with five hits in a game. Additionally, Bemboom's five hits were a Creighton record for a postseason game.

The Bluejays jumped ahead early by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning.  Brad McKewon jumped on UCLA starting pitcher Zack Weiss first, driving a double to gap in right-center to lead off the game.  Nick Judkins moved McKewon to third with a ground out to the right side of the infield. Chance Ross then drew a six-pitch walk to put a pair of runners on the corners.

Bemboom threaded a double inside the third base line, scoring McKewon and leaving Ross and Bemboom in scoring position.  Scott Thornburg then drove in the second run of the game with a ground out to shortstop, putting the Bluejays up 2-0 after the top of the first.

But the Bruins quickly equaled the score at two-all, using a two-out walk to Cody Keefer and Jeff Gelalich'a 10th home run of the season to knot things up.  Bluejay starting pitcher Nick Musec regrouped and got Trevor Brown to line out to a diving Judkins to end the first, tied 2-2.

Creighton tried to take advantage of a wild outing from Weiss in the top of the second inning, using two walks and a hit by pitch to load the bases in the frame.  But the free bases were mixed between a fly out, a strike out and an inning-ending ground out.

After Musec retired the Bruins in order in the second, the Bluejays again put a pair of runners in scoring position in the top of the third.  A pair of back-to-back singles from Bemboom and Thornburg put a pair of runners on base to lead off the inning.  Staehely sacrificed the two into scoring position, but a ground out and inning-ending strikeout stranded another pair of Jays on the bases.

The Bruins forced the Bluejays to make a pitching change in the home half of the third inning, using back-to-back singles off Musec to lead off the inning before an RBI groundout from Tyler Heineman scored the eventual game-winning run.  Creighton brought in Mark Winkelman with one out in the frame, trying to stem the damage but it wasn't to be. Keefer reached safely on an errant throw from Staehely before the Bruins used a pair of hits and a sacrifice bunt, compiled with a pair of Winkelman-issued walks to push across four more runs in the inning.  UCLA took a 7-2 lead after three complete.

After a scoreless fourth inning from both teams, the Bluejays began to scratch away in the top of the fifth.  Bemboom picked up his second double of the game to lead off the frame before Thornburg knocked in Bemboom with a single to left field.  Creighton trailed 7-3 heading to the bottom of the fifth.

Gelalich opened the home half of the fifth with his second home run of the ball game, becoming the first opponent to hit a pair of home runs in a single game this season against the Bluejay pitching staff.  A pair of walks from reliever Chase Webb along with a passed ball allowed the Bruins to push another run across, taking a 9-3 lead into sixth inning.

The Bruins continued to pour on the offense, pushing across four runs on reliever Andrew Urban in the sixth inning to score its final runs of the evening.

Creighton's offense did rally in the final frame of the game, led by the Bluejay seniors.  Gabriel Thibodeaux led off the inning with a pinch-hit single to left field, advancing to third on a successful hit and run by Judkins.  With runners on the corners, Ross singled to left center to drive in Thibodeaux. Bemboom then plated CU's second run of the inning by beating out an infield hit, scoring Judkins.  UCLA closer Scott Griggs finished the game with three straight strikeouts.

Judkins and Bemboom were Creighton's representatives to the All-Tournament Team. Jeff Gelalich was named the Regional's Most Oustanding Player.

The Bluejays will say goodbye to 12 seniors off this years roster, nine of which made appearances in the game on Sunday night (Ross, Judkins, Mattingly, Thornburg, Bemboom, Spomer, Webb, Koenigstein and Thibodeaux).  Shane Liska pitched in the win on Saturday and Reese McGraw made his final appearance in the first game of the day on Sunday.  The class is the first to win back-to-back MVC Tournament titles, finishing with a 12-5 mark in the postseason the last two years.

NOTES: Creighton played without MVC Tournament MVP Mike Gerber, who injured his hamstring in the first game of the day vs. New Mexico ... The last time the Bluejays were in the final of a regional was in 2005, when the Bluejays were playing at host Nebraska.  The Huskers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in that game, evened by the Bluejays in the third but then Nebraska scored the final eight runs of the game for a 10-2 win ... Creighton has now played in four doubleheaders this season.  Prior to the game on Sunday night, the Bluejays had swept one DH (vs. North Dakota), split one set of games (vs. Illinois State) and was swept in one DH (Southern Illinois) ... In the current NCAA Tournament format, the No. 2 national seed has advanced to Super Regionals all 14 years ... Erik Mattingly picked up just the fifth pinch-hit of the season for the Bluejays (5-37) when he singled to lead off the fourth inning.  Gabriel Thibodeaux picked up the sixth of the season in the top of the ninth ... Creighton had base runners on the base paths each of the first six innings on Sunday night, scoring in just the first and fifth innings ... The loss marks the first time in 58 games this season the Bluejays have surrendered up double-digit runs ... Nick Judkins finished the year leading CU in batting average (.313) and hits (71), Chance Ross led CU with 48 runs and 14 stolen bases, Anthony Bemboom led CU with 41 RBI, Jake Peter with 35 walks, and Mike Gerber led CU wiht four home runs ... Ty Blach led CU with six wins, 21 starts, four complete games, 120.1 innings and 83 strikeouts, while Chase Webb owned a team-best 2.35 ERA. In addtion, Reese McGraw led CU with five saves, and Mark Winkelman topped the Jays with 37 appearances on the mound.

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