CONWAY, Ark. - Creighton needed extra innings to defeat Central Arkansas on Saturday, but scored four runs in the top of the 10th inning to claim the 7-3 win. The Bluejays improve to 2-0 on the season, opening with two wins for the third straight season.
Creighton batted around in the 10th inning, scoring four runs on four hits, and the Bluejay relief again held UCA in the bottom half of the inning. Nick Judkins walked to lead off the frame and advanced to second when Scott Thornburg laced a single, his second hit of the day. Mike Gerber then drove a ball into left center, scoring Judkins and advancing Thornburg to third. Alex Staehely drove in Thornburg with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The two teams played scoreless baseball through the first three innings, each team mustering out just two hits. Anthony Bemboom laced a triple in the second inning, but was stranded on third and Chance Ross threaded a ball just inside third base to pick up a double, but was also left out on the basepaths.
Brandon Koenigstein opened up the 2012 season beautifully on the mound, using three strikeouts and a handful of defensive plays to keep the Bears scoreless through the first four innings.
Creighton broke the scoreless tie first, putting up a single run in the top of the fourth and a pair of runs in the fifth. Scott Thornburg led off the fourth inning with a single to left field and advanced to second when Mike Gerber put down a sacrifice bunt. The pair nearly advanced on a throwing error by UCA's Blake Roberts, who was trying to get Thornburg at second, but good outfield backup kept the pair where they were.
Alex Staehely was able to move Thornburg and Gerber both into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt before Brennan Murphy hit an RBI ground ball to the second baseman. The Bluejays took the 1-0 lead.
After jumping up at the wall and catching a deep fly ball off the bat of UCA's Blake Roberts, Bemboom singled up the middle to drive in both runs in the fifth. A pair of walks, first to Michael Mutcheson and then to Ross, aided by a sacrifice bunt by Nick Judkins put the runners into scoring position. Bemboom roped a ball up the middle to easily score both runners, giving Creighton the 3-0 lead.
The Bears scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, pulling the score within one run at 3-2,and forcing the Bluejays to put in Erik Mattingly to pitch. Griffin Glaude led off the inning with a double down the right field line, that scooted into the CU bullpen. A groundout by Doug Votolato advanced Glaude to third before a Jonathan Davis single up the middle gave UCA their first run of the game.
Koenigstein got the second out of the inning by striking out Garrett Brown with runners on first and second. Mattingly came in and ended the inning in one pitch, forcing Blake Roberts to fly out to Gerber in center.
Creighton threatened in the top of the sixth, when Gerber reached safely by an error and then advanced to third on a hit-and-run single through the right side by Murphy. A strikeout and groundout ended the Bluejays chance in the frame.
Creighton then went to the 'pen agian, bringing in Chase Webb after Mattingly allowed back-to-back singles in the sixth. Webb struck threw six straight strikes, fanning a pair of Bears to end the sixth.
The Bluejays again stranded a runner in scoring position in the top of the seventh (Judkins hit a double and advanced to third on a groundout) and the Bears took advantage, tying the game at three with a single run in the bottom of the frame. Forrest Allday led off the inning with a single through the right side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. An intentional walk followed by an unintentional walk loaded the bases for the Bears. Travis Snider hit a ball up the middle, that tipped off Webb's glove, leaving the only play at first, and the game tied at 3-3.
Each team had 10 hits in the second game of the series, Creighton getting four of theirs in the final inning of play. Judkins, Bebmoon and Thornburg each had a pair of hits on the day for Creighton, while Thornburg scored twice.
Creighton and UCA will be in action again tomorrow, as the Bluejays go for the series sweep at 1:00 pm.
NOTES: Brandon Koenigstein finished the game with 4.2 innings of work, striking out four batters and allowing two runs ... While ground-rule doubles weren't uncommon at the CU Sports Complex (due to the spongy outfield turf), it was unusual to see them in a log of other ballparks. UCA had one in their two-run fifth inning, when the ball bounced into the 20-ft cutout in left field where Bear Stadium has a viewing deck ... Jordan Makovicka became the first Bluejay to have a pinch hit in 2012, when he hit a pop-up in the top of the ninth inning ... Chase Webb and Reese McGraw both started off their seasons perfectly on the mound, striking out the first two batters they saw. Webb did it by throwing six straight strikes ... Creighton batted around in the top of the 10th for the first time this season. Creighton batted around in a single inning last on May 10, 2011 against Nebraska ... Creighton has now opened up 2-0 the last three seasons, the only three times in Ed Servais' tenure to do so ... The Bluejay pitching staff finished with 10 strikeouts on the day, four each by Koenigstein and Webb.