CONWAY, Ark. - As it turned out, T.J. Roemmich saved one last bullet after his mound appearance.
After throwing two-thirds of an inning and moving back to right field, Roemmich gunned down the potential tying run at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve a 3-2 win over Central Arkansas, Saturday evening at Bear Stadium.
“I know we’re taught to hit the cut, but I was throwing it all the way to the plate,” Roemmich said. “They had all the momentum at that point, and in that situation, you just have to go for it,” he added.
With men on first and second and two outs in the ninth, Chase Hutchingson lined a single to right. Bobby Pritchett was waved home, but Roemmich's throw was right on target to catcher Scott Thornburg, as a small collision at the plate turned into a short scuffle following the final out.
The play punctuated a pitcher's dual that provided more than a couple late game fireworks.
Michael Wild (UCA) and Brandon Koenigstein both dueled through the sixth inning, with Creighton clinging to a 1-0 lead. After Roemmich was brought in for the bottom of the seventh, Clay Washington belted a 3-0 fastball over the right field fence to tie the game at two.
Robbie Knight was quick to answer in the eighth, as the senior blasted a 1-0 fastball off Evan Cox for the senior's first home run of the season and sixth of his career to win the game for the Bluejays.
Wild and Koenigstein both pitched strong. Wild went seven innings for UCA (1-1), allowing two runs on just three hits, while fanning seven. Koenigstein entered the game in the second inning and pitched five innings. He allowed just one run on two hits while striking out three.
Neither factored in the decision, however, as Bobby Lackovic earned the win for Creighton (2-0). He came on after Roemmich to pitch 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. Cox took the loss for UCA after giving up the Knight home run, and Matt Patterson pitched the ninth for his first save.
UCA threatened to tie the game in their half of the eighth, as they put runners on first and second with two out. Pinch hitter Drew Sullivan's ground ball to short took a bad hop off Elliot Soto's shoulder, but the carom hopped right to Alex Staehely, who stepped on second for the final out of the frame.
Creighton never trailed in the contest, as they put together a two-out rally in the second to take the initial lead. Clay Cuno posted an infield single and Thornburg was hit by a pitch before Ian Dike laced an opposite-field double, scoring both runners to put the Jays up 2-0.
UCA pulled within one in the third on a run-scoring double play. With runners on first and third and one out, Michael Pair grounded a ball to Dike at first. Dike stepped on first and fired to second to get Ethan Harris, but Jordan Getchell scored from third before the tag was made for the first Bear run.
The Jays were out-hit 8-4 after rapping out 17 hits in a 22-0 over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville earlier in the afternoon. Knight led Creighton in the nightcap with two hits.
The Jays will be in action next weekend at the Stephen F. Austin Invitational. They open up Friday against Louisiana-Monroe at 11:00 a.m. in Nacogdoches, Texas.
NOTES: Creighton has not started 2-0 since 2000, when they started 3-0 and won 15 of their first 16 games, eventually qualifying for the NCAA Tournament ... The last time Creighton threw out a tying or go-ahead run at home plate in the 9th inning or later was Colin Shockey's toss at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on March 7, 2005. It came in the 11th inning with CU leading 3-2 and ended the game.