Creighton Hosts Southern Illinois

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Creighton is 8-2 at home this season.
Courtesy: Bluejay Banter

OMAHA, Neb. - Bluejay Baseball gets back into MVC action as the Jays host Southern Illinois in a three-game set this weekend. 

4/19: Southern IllinoisCreighton - 6:30 p.m. (TD Ameritrade Park Omaha)
Radio Broadcast: 1620 KOZN
4/20: Southern IllinoisCreighton - 2:00 p.m. (TD Ameritrade Park Omaha)
Radio Broadcast: 1620 KOZN
Television: NET Sports
Online: NET Sports
4/21: Southern IllinoisCreighton - 4:00 p.m. (TD Ameritrade Park Omaha)
Radio Broadcast: 1620 KOZN
Television: ESPNU
Online: ESPN3

Live Stats & Twitter
Radio: KOZN 1620 AM    Online Radio & Live Stats: GoCreighton.com
Twitter: @cu_baseball    Facebook: facebook.com/CreightonBaseball

Television
The final two games of the weekend series will be carried on television.  Saturday on Nebraska Education Television (NET) and Sunday on ESPNU.  Larry Punteney and Josh Bishop have the call on Saturday, while Dari Nowkhah and Danny Graves will call the game on Sunday.

Radio/Web Broadcast
The radio broadcasts of Creighton Baseball feature John Bishop and Dave Gustafson.  The dynamic duo will be on KOZN 1620 on Friday, April 16 at 6:15 p.m. & Sunday, April 21 at 3:45 p.m.  Gustafson will team with Jake Ryan on Saturday at 1:45 p.m.  The broadcast is streamed free of charge at www.gocreighton.com.

Past
Creighton swept the season series from Kansas with a 12-4 win over the Jayhaks on Tuesday, April 16.  It was the first time since May 1, 2011 that Creighton reached 10 or more runs at TD Ameritrade.  The Jays also took down Kansas in Lawrence, 6-4, on April 2.

Present
Friday, April 19 - Sunday, April 21
The Bluejays welcome in Southern Illinois for a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series this weekend.  Two of the three contests will be televised as NET carries the Saturday game at 2:00 p.m., while ESPNU will air Sunday’s contest at 4:05 p.m.

Future
Next week the Jays travel to Iowa City, Iowa on Tuesday for a single game with Iowa at 6:05 p.m.  Creighton returns home to play in the TD Ameritrade Classic, hosted by Nebraska, from April 26 - 28.  Creighton and Nebraska will play on Friday, April 26 (6:30 p.m.), while the Jays face Rutgers on April 27 and Oklahoma State on April 28.

Jays vs. Southern Illinois
Southern Illinois holds a 63-56 series edge on
Creighton, sweeping the regular-season meeting with the Jays last season.  The Bluejays, however, took the most critical game in 2012 with a 8-6 with over SIU in the MVC Tournament Championship. Coach Servais is 18-16 against Southern Illinois in 34 career meetings.

Scouting the Salukis (18-18, 2-7 MVC)
Southern Illinois enters the weekend on a modest two-game winning streak, taking the final game of their series with Missouri State (8-5) last Sunday and downing Tennessee-Martin (7-6) on Tuesday.  SIU’s other MVC win also came on a Sunday, salvaging the finale at Evansville on April 7 (13-5).

As a team the Salukis are hitting .282, but just .274 in MVC play.  Junior Ryan Casillas has been tearing up Valley pitchers, hitting .471 in conference games (16-for-34).  Overall his average is third on the team at .318, senior Austin Montgomery leads Southern Illinois on the season with a .348 average and a team-best four home runs.  Two other dangerous bats for the Salukis are junior Matt Jones and Jake Welch.  Jones has struggled in conference (.194), but is hitting .338 on the season.  Welch, meanwhile is the only true stolen base threat for SIU with 14 of the teams’ 26 swipes.

On the mound the Salukis have a team ERA of 3.61, led by combined 3.23 ERA from their weekend starters.  The pitching staff has been challenged by the Southern Illinois’ defense. The Salukis have committed 53 errors this season, leading to 45 unearned runs.

Quick Hits

  • Creighton is 7-1 in freshman Tommy Strunc’s seven starts.
  • The Bluejays are 7-1 in night games.
  • The Jays are 4-0 in midweek contests.
  • Creighton is 16-3 when drawing five or more walks.
  • The Jays are 9-1 when scoring in the first inning & 10-1 when scoring first.
  • The Jays is 17-1 when outhitting their opponent.
  • Mark Winkelman has 118 career appearances for the Jays, the rest of the Creighton staff has a combined 140 appearances.
  • The Bluejays enter the weekend hitting .301, the second highest mark under head coach Ed Servais (.312 for the 2005 team that reached the NCAA Regionals).
  • Creighton pitching owns an MVC-high eight saves, the Jays had eight saves during the 2012 season.
  • The Jays bullpen is 12-3 with a 3.32 ERA and eight saves in 130.0 innings this season.  The 2012 bullpen went 13-10 with a 3.50 ERA and eight saves in 236.2 innings.
  • Senior Brennan Murphy leads the team with six bunt singles.

TD Tidbits

  • Historical Matchup: Creighton’s first win at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha (TDAPO) came on April 22, 2011 against Southern Illinois, 5-4 in 10-innings.
  • Pitcher’s Paradise: In its brief history, TDAPO hasn’t been kind to hitters.  The combined average is just .239 (1413-of-5908).
  • Don’t Call it a Comeback: Teams are a combined 77-1 when leading after eight innings. Creighton is 28-0 at TDAPO when leading after eight.
  • No Fly Zone: In 90 games at TDAPO only 44  balls have left the yard.  There has never been a walk-off home runs, nor back-to-back blasts.  In 33 games, Creighton has just one long ball at TDAPO, coming from senior Alex Staehely on March 31, 2012.
  • Home Field Advantage: The Bluejays have started to learn how to take advantage of their spacious new home, in their nine games at TDAPO this season, the Jays at hitting .312 (89-of-285).
  • Free Baseball:  Creighton is 4-1 in extra-inning games at TDAPO

Double Trouble
Southern Illinois enters the weekend with an MVC leading 71 doubles this season, by contrast the Jays have the lowest total in the conference at 39.  

Ed Servais Baseball (ESB) = Defense
Since taking over as Creighton’s head coach in 2004, Ed Servais’ teams have committed the fewest errors in the nation (491).  The Jays also hold the top overall fielding percentage during that stretch, .977.  In 2013 Creighton is maitaining that pace with a .977 fielding percentage (25 errors in 1109 chances).

ESB Lesson Number 2, Fundamentals
Along with a focus on defense, Creighton has become known as a team that is fundamentally sound.  In 2013 the Jays are 5th in the nation with 52 sacrifice bunts, led by junior Federico Castagnini who is second in the nation in bunts per game (0.46).

The Final Countdown
Creighton has been automatic with a lead late this season.  The Jays at 16-0 when leading after six, 18-0 when leading after seven, and 18-0 entering the ninth with the lead.

Who’s on First
The April 14th start at first base by sophomore Landon Lucansky marks the first time since 2005 that Creighton Baseball’s had two players make multiple starts at 1B in same year.  Lucansky has been pressed into action due to starter, freshman Reagan Fowler, suffering a concussion in a collision at first on Friday, April 12.

Starts at 1B since 2006
2006: Darin Ruf - 52
2007: Darin Ruf - 61
2008: Darin Ruf - 58
2009: Darin Ruf - 56
2010: Ian Dike - 52
2011: Nick Judkins - 60; Gabriel Thibodeaux - 1
2012: Nick Judkins - 58
2013: Reagan Fowler - 25; Landon Lucansky 3

McKewon Heating Up at the Top
Junior Brad McKewon  has been red hot over the last five games at .588 (10-for-17), with a .708 on-base%, .706 slugging, 7 RBI, 6R.  McKewon has also drawn four walks and been hit three times during this stretch. Hitting 80 points better than last season, the key has been improved plate discipline, had 21 walks and 40 Ks in 176 AB.  This year, 13 BB and 13 Ks in 110 AB.

Coming into Focus
Since returning from a concussion on April 5, junior Federico Castagnini is hitting .444 (12-for-27) with seven RBI & six runs scored.

Gerber Prefers to Triple his Fun
Junior Mike Gerber collected his fifth triple of the season in Creighton’s 12-4 win over Kansas on April 12.  Gerber ranks third in the NCAA in triples (5) and triples per game (.18).

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