Ninth Inning Rally Propels Baseball Past Bradley

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Reese McGraw
Courtesy: David Schofield

PEORIA, Ill. - The Creighton baseball team scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning, coming from behind to even the series at one a piece with a 7-4 win over Bradley on Saturday afternoon. The Bluejays pick up their first road win of the conference regular-season, improving to 17-23 overall and 4-12 in The Valley, while the Braves fall to 25-18-1, 8-9 in the conference.

It marks the second time in a week the Bluejays have trailed after eight innings and come back to win the game.  The Bluejays are now 8-130 under head coach Ed Servais when trailing after eight innings, with two of the wins coming in the last week.  Creighton trailed going into the ninth last week against Illinois State, winning 6-5 in 15 innings.

Chance Ross led the Bluejays on the day, picking up three of the eight hits for the Jays, including a solo home run.  The senior third baseman drove in a pair of runs and stole a base as well in the win.

Creighton got on the board first in the top of the first inning, when Chance Ross belted the second pitch he saw over the left field fence for a his second home run of the season.  The Bluejays were retired in order to close out the first, leading 1-0 early.

The Braves answered in the bottom of the second, taking a 2-1 lead on a Jarrod Eigsti's first career home run.  After Derek Sprout singled through the left side and advanced to second on a nice defensive play by Ross, getting Bob Schuch out at first, Eigsti blasted a ball onto the picnic tables in right field to take the lead.

An inning-lead off double by Anthony Bemboom in the fourth inning turned into the equalizing run, when Alex Staehely singled back up the middle to score Bemboom and make it 2-2.  Staehely moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Mike Gerber.  Creighton regained the lead, 3-2, when Scott Thornburg grounded out to the third baseman, pushing across Staehely.

Bradley evened the game in the bottom of the fourth, pushing across a single run after Erik Mattingly issued a leadoff walk to Braves catcher Derek Sprout.  A sacrifice bunt and ground out on the right side of the infield moved Sprout to third before a single to right field from David Compitello evened the game 3-3.

Mattingly walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the fifth inning, forcing Ed Servais to make a pitching change and bring in Mark Winkelman.  The left-hander struggled in his team-leading 26th appearance of the season, letting a runner on with an error, before walking the bases loaded and walking in the go-ahead run.

Chase Webb came in, retiring the final out of the inning on a ground ball with the bases loaded, with Bradley clinging to a 4-3 lead after six innings.

Bradley relievers shut down the Bluejay bats from the fifth through the ninth inning, allowing just two hits and walking one batter in that frame.  But for the second straight game, the Bluejays put together a rally in the top half of the ninth inning.

Staehely reached when reliever Danny Gifford hit him with a pitch.  Gerber then walked, and both runners were moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt from Thornburg.  Creighton evened the game 4-4 when Jake Peter singled up the middle before taking the lead on a safety squeeze by Brennan Murphy that scored Gerber.

The Jays took a three run lead when Ross doubled to right field, driving in both Peter and Murphy.  McKewon joined Ross on the bases with a hit-by-pitch, driving Gifford off the mound.  A pair of fly balls induced by Steve Adkins ended the threat, with Creighton ahead 7-4 after their half of the ninth.

Reese McGraw picked up his third win of the season, not surrendering a single hit in his 2.0 innings of work.

The two teams play the rubber match tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch from Peoria set for 1:00 p.m.

NOTES:  Bradley put runners on base in six innings on Saturday, moving at least one runner in scoring position in the first five innings straight ... Eigsti's home run marks the first home run surrendered by Erik Mattingly in his time at Creighton ... Creighton tied a single season high with three stolen bases on the afternoon ... Alex Staehely's hit-by-pitch in the 9th inning marks the first time this season the junior has been pegged with a pitch ... Creighton trailed against Illinois State going into the ninth inning last week, but came back to win in the 15th inning.  Creighton is now 8-130 under Ed Servais when trailing after eight innings ... Chance Ross has now picked up three hits in a game six times in his career ... Freshman Jake Peter came up with a two-strike hit in the ninth, pushing across the tying run of the game and continuing the rally in the frame ... The Creighton bullpen was stellar on the afternoon, not surrendering a hit in the final five innings of the game.  Mark Winkelman, Chase Webb, Kurt Spomer and Reese McGraw combined to allow three runs and strike out one batter without surrendering a hit ... Bradley was 22-0 coming into the game when leading after eight innings.

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