EVANSVILLE, Ind. - In a game that started at 6:00 on Friday and ended at 4:00 on Saturday afternoon, the Bluejays used a squeeze bunt by Alex Staehely in the top of the 12th, scoring Jimmy Swift for the game winning run, a 2-1 Bluejay win over the Purple Aces. Creighton (34-12, 11-5) used a one out single by Swift, moved him with a fielders choice and error by Evansville's short stop, and squeezed him in for the winning run before Chase Webb and Jack VanLeur held on in the bottom of the 12th for Creighton's 34th win.
The Bluejays and Purple Aces were both dominated on the opening day by the opposing pitcher, as Creighton's Jonas Dufek recorded seven strike outs, allowing just two hits and not letting a base runner past second base. Evansville's Kyle Lloyd had a silimar outing, with five strike outs.
Dufek had another solid outing on the mound, striking out seven and not walking a single batter in his 5.0 innings of work. It marks the fourth start in a row, seventh of his last eight, the senior right hander has struck out at least seven, moving his season total to 99.
The Bluejays did put runners in scoring position in each of the first five innings, picking up three hits, a walk and a hit by pitch, but stranded all five runners on base. Nick Judkins picked up Creighton's first hit in the first inning, ripping a two out triple to the right center-field gap. Two ground-outs to the left side of the infield left Judkins standing on third.
Scott Thornburg continued his terror at the plate in the second inning, beating out a two out, infield hit to the shortstop's backhand side and advancing to second on a throwing error by Eric Stamets. An inning ending strike out stranded Thornburg at second. Chance Ross then led off the third inning with a single and stole second base. He advanced to third on a ground ball to the first baseman by Judkins, but another inning ending pop out stranded yet another Jay on third.
The fourth and fifth continued the same for the Jays, as Trever Adams reached on a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, but was stranded in the fourth. Ross was hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. An inning ending ground ball to the first baseman stranded Ross at third for the second time in the game.
Lightning was then spotted in the area, forcing the two teams to suspend the game until Saturday afternoon.
Creighton started Reese McGraw in the second half of the game while the Purple Aces put in Josh Biggs in the battle of the bullpens. Creighton broke the code first, capitalizing on three-straight singles to lead off the seventh inning. Thornburg led off the frame with a single that dipped under Cody Fick's glove at third and advanced to third on a hit and run by Mike Gerber, who laced a single through the right side. Ross then picked up his 17th RBI of the season, driving a single through the left side to knock in Thornburg.
In what appeared could be a big inning for Creighton, a fielders choice bunt by Joey Bowens picked off Gerber at third, a fielders choice to the first baseman by Judkins got Bowens at second and a pop up by Swift to the short stop ended the frame.
McGraw hit the first batter he faced, but retired eight straight to get into the bottom of the eighth inning. He struck out one batter, forcing five ground ball outs in his 2.2 innings of work. A two out double by Stamets drove McGraw off the mound, bringing in Kurt Spomer for the Jays. Greg Wallace picked up the second double of the frame, driving in Stamets for the tying run. An intentional walk to Fick and fly out by Copeland ended the eighth, with CU and UE tield 1-1.
Creighton was retired in order in the ninth thanks to the the second straight inning-ending double play. Spomer shut down the Purple Aces in order in the ninth, striking out the middle man sandwiched by ground balls to Staehely at second. The Bluejays stranded another runner on third in the 10th, as Judkins led off the frame with a single through the right side, moved to second on a walk to Swift and to third on a fielder's choice by Adams (which forced Swift out at second). Staehely then put a charge in a ball, but it was caught at the warning track by Jared Baehl in left field.
Creighton got out of the biggest jam of the day in the bottom of the 10th. With one out, the Purple Aces put their next two batters on base by way of hit-by-pitch by Spomer. Creighton then brought in Mark Winkelman to face the next two batters, striking out Greg Wallace before intentionally walking Fick. With two outs and the bases loaded, Chase Webb came in and forced a ground ball to Swift to get the force out at second and retire the side.
In the bottom of the 12th, Chris Pearson picked up a two strike single to center field to lead off the frame. A sacrifice bunt by Nate Smith moved pinch runner Legan to second, followed by a wild pitch allowing Legan to get to third. A walk to Stamets brought in Jack VanLeur to face the left-handed Wallace. VanLeur forced a pop-up on a bunt, caught by Judkins on a dive in foul territory. With two outs, VanLeur forced a ground ball to Swift to end the game.
The Bluejays finished game one with 14 hits, led by Gerber with 3, Judkins, Swift, Adams, Thornburg and Ross with two each. The Jays also stranded 14 runners on base, a season high. Webb earned his third win of the season, while VanLeur earned his second save of the season.
Quick Hits: Creighton was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the first half of the game on Friday, stranding runners in scoring position in each of the first five innings... Chance Ross had another productive game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. It marks the second game in a row Ross picked up an RBI, as he drove in a run against Nebraska. He was stranded on third base all three times he reached base on the day... Trever Adams extended both of his current streaks in the suspended game. A walk in the fourth extended his streak of reaching base safely to 30 games, while the double in the sixth moved his hit streak to 11 games... Kurt Spomer failed to pick up the save for just the second time this season, as he is 7-for-9 in save opportunities this season... Creighton has grounded into a double play at least once in the last five games, including eight in the last three conference games dating back to last weekend at Wichita State... Kurt Spomer hit two batters in the 10th inning, just the 2nd and 3rd he has hit all season... The 12 innings mark Creighton's longest outing this season. The last time the Jays played a 12-inning game was April 21, 2009, a 3-4 loss at Nebraska... Creighton is now 5-0 in extra inning games this season.