CONWAY, Ark. - Ty Blach started off the 2012 season just where he left off the 2011 season, striking out six batters in 5.0 innings of work as Creighton defeated Central Arkansas 4-3. The win marks Ed Servais' 300th career win at Creighton, as he holds a 300-165 overall record leading the Bluejays.
Creighton was led offensively by Scott Thornburg, who finished the day 2-for-4 from the plate with an RBI. Mike Gerber knocked in a pair of runs while Brad McKewon scored twice. Central Arkansas outhit the Jays 7-5 in the game, led by Travis Snider who finished 3-for-4 with a pair of runs.
The Bluejays scored early, and then held on defensively to get the win on Friday. The Bluejays scored in the first inning thanks primarily to errant pitching by UCA starter Jeffrey Enloe. After Chance Ross walked and Nick Judkins grounded out to second base, Anthony Bemboom was walked and Scott Thornburg was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Enloe then walked in the first run of the game, walking Mike Gerber in four straight pitches.
Blach retired the Bears in order in the bottom of the first before the Bluejays struck again. With one out, Brad McKewon reached safely and advanced to second on a throwing error by Bears shortstop Garrett Brown. After a Ross groundout, Judkins picked up his first hit of the season with a single through the right side to plate McKewon.
Creighton struck again just two batters later when Thornburg doubled to left field, scoring Judkins for the Jays' second unearned run of the inning. Blach, once again, retired the Bears in order.
UCA scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the third, following a three-up, three-down top half of the inning by the Jays. Bryan Willson reached safely on an infield single, and advanced to second thanks to a Blake Marchal sacrifice bunt. Willson moved another 60 feet on a passed ball by Bemboom and scored when Logan Moon riped a line-drive to right field, deep enough to score Willson from third.
Mark Winkelman came on to pitch for the Bluejays in the bottom of the 6th, striking out the first batter he faced. The southpaw cruised through his frist inning, but allowed a single run in the second. After Travis Snider doubled to right center, Bryan Willson singled up the middle to put together the best scoring chance to that point for UCA.
Winkelman forced Marchal to ground into a 4-6-3 doubleplay, plating one run but clearing off the bases. Winkelman then struck out Logan Moon looking to end the inning.
Offensively, the Bluejay bats went quite after the fourth inning when the Bears brought in right handed pitcher Bryce Biggerstaff. The UCA middleman closed out the game for the Bears, retiring 15 of the final 19 batters, including 10 straight from the sixth through ninth.
Creighton brought in Kurt Spomer in the bottom of the eighth, after the Bears put runners on first and second and advanced them with a sacrifice fly to center. Spomer struck out Blake Roberts to finish the inning.
Spomer did not pick up his first save of the season easily, as the Bears plated a single run in the bottom of the ninth inning. After a single to lead things off, Snider advanced second on a ground out. A Logan Moon single that laced off Spomer's glove scored Snider, cutting the lead to 4-3. Spomer forced a groundout to Staehely at short to end the game.
The two teams will play 10:00 am game tomorrow, moved earlier than the scheduled 5:00 pm start, as the two teams will try to beat the rain that is heading in early in the afternoon.
NOTES: Creighton is now 22-22 in season openers, including a 6-3 mark under Ed Servais ... The Jays have now won the last three straight, two of which have taken place in Conway, Ark. (The Jays opened 2010 with a 22-0 win over SIU Edwardsville in Conway) ... Ty Blach is now the pitcher of record in the last two season openers, earning a win in both 2011 and 2012 ... Blach has thrown 5.0, 6.0, and 5.0 innings in his first start of the respective seasons, striking out four, three and six batters, respectively ... Brennan Murphy picked up his first hit as a Bluejay in what was also his first start. The junior from Butler Community College riped a single on the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning ... The pitching staff didn't allow an extra-base hit until the 7th inning, when Travis Snider ripped a double to right-centerfield ... Kurt Spomer picked up his first save of the 2012 season, after moving to the closer position last season with 13 saves ... Creighton now holds a 2-1 lead over UCA overall, with all three games decided by a single-run.