OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton baseball team erupted offensively in the bottom of the eighth inning, pushing across four runs on five hits to claim game one of the three-game series, 7-3. The win improves Creighton to 22-26 overall, 6-12 in the Valley while the Shockers fall to 33-23 overall, 10-9 in league play.
Bluejay starting pitcher Ty Blach surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the top of the first inning, before inducing a ground ball to shortstop to close the top half of the inning. From that point on, the southpaw allowed just one hit in the next six complete innings, not allowing a single Shocker past second base.
The Bluejays helped Blach by putting a run up in the home half of the first inning. After Chance Ross led off the game with a single through the left side, Brad McKewon moved Ross to second with a sacrifice bunt. A ground out on the right side of the diamond advanced Ross to third before he scored on an Anthony Bemboom single through the right side. Creighton led 1-0 after one.
Wichita State starting pitcher Josh Smith then shut down the Bluejays in three straight innings, surrendering just a bunt single to Brennan Murphy in the third and a single up the middle to Mike Gerber in the fourth before Creighton again put up a single tally in the fifth inning.
The Bluejays again put the leadoff batter on int he fifth, this time with Jake Peter pulling a single through the right side. Murphy then sacrificed him over to second base and Peter advanced to third on a wild pitch. Ross then picked up his 20th RBI of the season with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Blach continued to baffle the Shockers order, putting down the WSU batters in order in the third through seventh frames, 15 straight batters. He completed his 18th start of the season with 7.0 innings of shutout baseball, surrendering just three hits and striking out three batters.
WSU evened the game at 2-2 in the top half of the eighth inning, using two runs on two hits and capitalizing on a pair of walks, the only two issued in the game by the Creighton pitching staff. After reliever Chase Webb got the first out of the inning, he walked Josh Halbert on a 13 pitch at-bat. A ground out moved Halbert to second.
With two outs, Dayne Parker singled to right field to drive in the first Shocker run of the game. Webb issued a five-pitch walk to Don Lambert to put a pair of runners on base. Creighton brought in Kurt Spomer, who surrendered an RBI single to Johnny Coy before getting Casey Gillaspie to ground out to end the frame. The Jays and Shockers were tied 2-2.
But Creighton responded right away in the bottom of the eighth, roughing up WSU reliever Foster Vielock for four earned runs in 0.2 innings of work. With one out, Judkins walked and scored when Bemboom hit his third triple of the season to right center field. Alex Staehely then singled to center field, scoring the second run of the inning.
Staehely stole second base and Gerber was intentionally walked before Thornburg struck out, putting a pair of runners on base with two outs. Wichita State turned to reliever Kyle Bouman who loaded the bases with a four pitch walk to Jake Peter.
Back-to-back singles from Murphy and Ross drove in all three runners, giving Creighton the 7-2 lead heading to the ninth.
Creighton reliever Reese McGraw came in to finish the game, allowing two hits and one earned run but striking out the final batter of the game to give Creighton the win.
Creighton and Wichita State play the second game of the three-game series tomorrow evening with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. The game will honor the military in the annual Military Appreciation night.
NOTES: Creighton starting pitcher Ty Blach threw another gem on the mound, going 7.0 shutout innings and striking out three batters. He left the game with a 2-0 lead, but would not get the win. He finished conference play without a win on the mound ... Kurt Spomer picked up his third win of the season, second in conference play, with 0.1 innings of work on Thursday night ... Three Bluejay batters had multiple hits in the win, with Creighton out-hitting the Shockers 11-7 in the game. Chance Ross, Anthony Bemboom, Alex Staehely and Brennan Murphy each had a pair of hits, while Ross had three RBI and Bemboom had two RBI ... Creighton is now 18-9 when scoring first this season and 13-5 when pushing across at least one run in the first inning ... Brad McKewon is on a career-best seven game hit streak, thanks to his single in the win on Thursday. He has a hit in the last 10 games in TD Ameritrade Park Omaha ... The Bluejays are now 8-0 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha when owning 11 or more hits in a game.