OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton baseball team took the opening game of its key three-game series with Missouri State, winning 3-2 in front of 8,171 fans Thursday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. The win gives the Bluejays a game and a half lead over the Bears in the Missouri Valley Conference standings, with just two games remaining in the regular-season. A three-run sixth inning proved to be the difference for the Bluejays in the one-run win.
The Bears scored the first run of the game with the help of the Bluejay defense. Aaron Conway led off the fourth inning by hitting a high fly ball to shallow center field. The Bluejays appeared settled under the ball, but miscommunication allowed the ball to fall between four fielders and Conway was at second on the bloop double. A sacrifice bunt moved Conway to third and a sacrifice fly by Brent Seifert scored him to put the visitors ahead 1-0.
After being held scoreless and stranding six runners through five innings, Creighton broke through against Missouri State's Nick Petree in the bottom of the sixth. Trever Adams, who had extended his hitting streak to 15 games in the second inning, reached on a bunt single to start the sixth and then scored when Alex Staehely followed by ripping his team-leading 20th double of the season into the left centerfield gap. Staehely would later score on Mike Gerber's double down the right field line, putting runners at second and third with one out. Chance Ross drove in the third run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to center field and the Bluejays led 3-1 after six.
Missouri State cut into Creighton lead and threatened to go ahead in the eighth. Barrett Noirfalise led off the inning with a single, before Bluejay starter Jonas Dufek retired the next two MSU hitters. Back-to-back two-out singles from Kevin Medrano and Brock Chaffin scored one run and chased Dufek from the game. CU reliever Reese McGraw walked the only hitter he faced to load the bases, and head coach Ed Servais brought in his closer Kurt Spomer. Spomer threw just one pitch to retire Luke Voit, as the MSU catcher grounded out to second base to help the Jays get out of the inning with a 3-2 lead.
Spomer worked around a one-out single in the top of the ninth to record his ninth save of the season and secure the 3-2 victory.
Creighton's offense had plenty of chances in the early innings to build a lead, but Petree was able to keep the Jays scoreless until the sixth. Petree worked out of a bases loaded no-out jam in the second inning. Adams led off the inning with a single and he moved to second when Staehely was hit by a pitch. The Jays then loaded the bases when Petree opted to throw to third on Anthony Bemboom's sacrifice bunt, but Adams beat the throw on the fielder's choice and the bases were full. Scott Thornburg followed by hitting a sinking line drive to right field, which Spiker Helms caught and fired to first base to record a double play as Bemboom could not get back in time. Gerber flied out to right to end the scoring threat and keep the game scoreless.
Dufek improved to 9-1 on the season and picked up his 21st career victory, tying Pat Venditte for the most wins by a Bluejay during Ed Servais' tenure. The senior right-hander lasted 7.2 innings, allowed six hits and two runs, walked two and struck out six in the victory. With six strikeouts, he now has 105 on the season, the most by a Bluejay since 1999.
Petree hurled a complete game for the Bears, allowing nine hits and three earned runs to fall to 8-2 on the year.
A trio of Bluejays had two hits to pace the offense. Adams and Thornburg each finished 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Staehely went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in the win.
Creighton and Missouri State return to the field on Friday at 7 pm and conclude the regular-season on Saturday at 1 pm.
NOTES: In addition to extending his hitting streak to 15 games, Adams has now reached base safely in 34 straight games, the third-longest streak by a Bluejay since 1999 ... Adams has hit safely in 32 of his last 33 games and 42 of his last 44 games ... With 21 wins, Dufek is now tied with Pat Venditte (2005-08) for the most for any player in Ed Servais' eight-year tenure ... Dufek struck out six on Thursday, giving him 105 on the year, the most Ks by a Bluejay since Peyton Lewis had 114 in 1999, and sixth-most in school history for one season ... Dufek moved into ninth in Creighton history for career strikeouts on Thursday, passing Dan Gooris (1998-2001). He now has 222 career strikeouts ... At 37-13, Creighton is off to its second-best record through 50 games in school history. Creighton's 2007 team started 38-12 ... Nick Petree has now thrown 89 innings this season, most by a freshman in Missouri State history ... Creighton has now won five straight home games.