WICHITA, Kan. - Creighton erased a four-run deficit in the eighth inning to send its MVC Tournament loser's bracket game with Bradley to extra innings. The hero would turn out to be a freshman with just 19 at-bats on the season.
Michael Blatchford recorded his first hit since March 19th, as he brought home Carson Vitale with a two-out single in the bottom of the 12th to give the Bluejays a 6-5 victory over Bradley, Wednesday afternoon at Eck Stadium.
Blatchford's single through the left side capped a Creighton (27-24) comeback, as the Jays rallied in the eighth inning from a four-run deficit. With one out, Robbie Knight was hit by a pitch and Alex Staehely walked. A Trever Adams single loaded the bases for T.J. Roemmich.
The senior outfielder followed with a bases clearing double to the left-center gap to cut the Bradley (20-32) lead to 5-4. A flyout moved Roemmich to third, as Jimmy Swift tied it with a looping single to center. That run would be the last until Blatchford's hit in the 12th.
Roemmich had a big day for the Jays, as he finished with two hits and four RBI. Knight also had two hits and scored two runs to help keep the Jays alive another day.
Bobby Lackovic got out of a one-out, runner on third jam in the top of the 12th to move to 4-3 on the season. Kori Jensen (5-4) suffered the loss, hurling the final 1.2 innings.
Brandon Koenigstein was responsible for getting the game to Lackovic, as he hurled 6.2 innings in relief, allowing just a single earned run on five hits, while striking out three.
Bradley led from the outset, as Kevin Fritz led off the game with a home run. It was the second lead-off homer for Fritz against Creighton this season and it gave BU a 1-0 lead.
Creighton tied the game in the fourth on Roemmich's first RBI. Knight started the frame with a single and moved to second on an Alex Staehely sacrifice bunt. After an Adams single, Roemmich came through to tie the game.
Bradley came back in the next inning with three runs in the fifth off starter Ty Blach. After a lead-off single, sac bunt and hit batsman, Jason Leblebijian executed a perfect hit-and-run, singling up the middle to score Mike Tauchman to make it 1-0.
Fritz followed with another perfectly executed play, using a safety squeeze bunt by Fritz, scoring David Compitello to make it 3-1. Rob Elliot brought in the final run with a two-out single to center for a 4-1 Brave lead.
The Braves would post another in the eighth before Creighton's big rally. Leblebijian tripled to start the inning, and Elliot brought him home two batters later with a single to make it 5-1 before the CU rally.
Creighton will next play Indiana State on Thursday morning in an elimination game that can be heard on KOIL AM (1180 AM). First pitch, for the third day in a row, will be 9 a.m. The winner of that game will need to beat Illinois State twice (once Thursday at 4 pm, once Friday at a time TBA) to reach the championship game.
NOTES: The last time Creighton lost their first two games at the MVC Tournament was in 2003, when they lost to Missouri State and Indiana State ... Koenigstein's hitless and scoreless streaks at the MVC Tournament ended at 9.1 and 9.2 innings respectively ... Ian Dike's 65 strikeouts are the most since Peyton Lewis struck out 70 times in 1999 ... Three of Creighton's last four games in the Valley Tournament have gone to extra innings ... The two extra-inning games marks the first time Creighton has played back-to-back extra-inning games in Valley Tournament history. The Jays are now 4-3 in extra-innings games this season.