OMAHA, Neb. - Creighton pitchers stranded 16 Evansville runners on base, as the Bluejays clinched their first Valley home series win with a 7-3 victory over the Purple Aces, Saturday afternoon at the CU Sports Complex.
Six different Bluejays had an RBI, with Scott Thornburg and Ian Dike posting two hits. Thornburg and Joey Bowens both had two runs, as Bowens contributed a controversial, game-saving catch in center field in the top of the eighth inning.
The Aces (23-19, 5-6 MVC) left the bases loaded three times on the afternoon, the last coming in the eighth with the Bluejays leading 7-3.
With two outs, Tom Heithoff launched a ball to straight away center that looked destined to clear the bases. Bowens crashed into the wall, making a catch that was originally ruled a trap against the wall, as three Evansville runs scored. After the umpires convened, the play was overturned and the three runs were negated, with the score going back to 7-3.
The Jays (21-17, 8-9 MVC) led throughout, but got some breathing room with a two-out rally in the seventh. T.J. Roemmich posted his second triple in as many games as Carson Vitale brought him home with an RBI-single. Ian Dike then shot the first pitch he saw into the gap in left-center for the four-run Creighton cushion.
Ty Blach (2-2) tallied his second win, laboring through 6.0 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits with six strikeouts. Sam Johns (5-3) took the loss for Evansville, allowing all seven runs, six earned, in 6.2 innings. He struck out nine Bluejay batters.
The Bluejays took the lead with back-to-back doubles from Bowens and Elliot Soto in the third. Bowens came around on Soto's double, and Soto scored two batters later when Trever Adams shot a single through the right side for a 2-0 CU advantage.
The Jays got out of their first bases loaded jam in the fourth, as Thornburg posted his solo shot, a towering blast to left-center, to make it 3-0.
The two squads exchanged single runs for the next four half-innings, as Evansville got on the board with Cody Fick's league-leading 13th home run in the fifth. Creighton answered in the bottom half as a Bowens scored on a wild pitch after getting plunked to start the frame.
Evansville came right back in the sixth to make it a 4-2 game. Heithoff reached on an error by Alex Staehely at second, and after an Andy Pascoe single and Chris Pearson sac bunt, Alex Acheson scored Heithoff with a sac fly to left.
Bowens figured into the action again in the bottom half, as he brought home Thornburg, who doubled to lead off the inning, with a perfectly executed safety squeeze, to make it 5-2 Jays.
Evansville would not go away, as a Trentt Copeland double and Nate Smith single set up Copeland scampering home on a Gage Daniels wild pitch to make it a 5-3 game. Evansville loaded the bases for the second time, but Bobby Lackovic came on in relief to get Acheson to fly out to the track in right field.
Creighton and Evansville will wrap up their series tomorrow at the CU Sports Complex. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
NOTES: Evansville assistant coach Marc Wagner was ejected in the middle of the eighth after arguing Bowens' catch ... Creighton currently has five different players with saves; the first time the Jays have had that many since 1998 ... The win marked the first Saturday win for the Jays since March 27 over Southern Illinois ... Blach hit his first batter in 52.0 innings this season when he plunked Eric Stamets to start the third inning ... Roemmich tripled in back-to-back games for the first time in his career ... Saturday marked the fourth game Thornburg has had multiple extra base hits.