OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton baseball team treated fans to a dramatic finish in game one of the series with Illinois State, needing a TD Ameritrade Park Omaha record 15-innings to down the Redbirds 6-5. Game two belonged to the Redbirds, as Illinois State put up seven runs on 12 hits, pairing up with a complete game performance from freshman pitcher Dylan Craig in a 7-2 win.
Nick Judkins led the Bluejays with three hits in the first game of the series, driving in two of Creighton's six runs on the afternoon and scoring another himself. The Bluejays had 12 hits in the game, equaled by ISU on the afternoon.
The Bluejays put up three runs in the bottom of the first inning, marking the third time in conference play the Jays have scored in their half of the first inning (Missouri State 3/25 and Indiana State 4/15). Chance Ross started off the game with a single to center field, advancing to second off an infield single from Brad McKewon.
Anthony Bemboom put runners on the corners, forcing McKewon out at second on a fielder's choice ground ball. Nick Judkins then picked up his second RBI in seven games with a single back up the middle. A sacrifice bunt from Alex Staehely put both runners in scoring position, before Mike Gerber lifted a ball over the second baseman to score both Bemboom and Judkins.
The Redbirds put up a solo run in the top of the fourth and then evened the game thanks to a two-run home run off the bat of designated hitter Mike Hollenbeck in the fifth inning.
Judkins picked up his third hit in the bottom of the fifth inning, putting the Bluejays back on top 4-3. Ross led off the frame with a five pitch walk and advanced to second with a McKewon sacrifice bunt. Judkins then smashed the first pitch he saw straight back up the middle, scoring Ross from second.
Creighton forced Redbirds starter Chris Razo off the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jordan Makovicka led off the frame with a walk, advancing to second with a sacrifice bunt from Ross. ISU brought in Justin Hauer, who induced a pair of pop flies to end the threat, with the Jays still on top 4-3.
The Redbirds led off the top of the eighth with a single from Zac Johnson, forcing the Jays to bring in Mark Winkelman from the bullpen. Winkelman got Kyle Stanton to fly out to left field before walking Eric Aguilera, forcing the Jays to make another pitching change.
Creighton brought in Reese McGraw with runners on first and second and one out. The senior baffled Kevin Tokarski, striking him out looking before a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position and led to an intentional walk to Hollenbeck. Pinch hitter David Fallon blooped a single into center, pushing across a pair of runs to give ISU the 5-4 lead.
The Bluejays were then held scoreless in the eighth inning, with ISU reliever Kenny Long striking out three straight Bluejays looking. But the Jays rallied for a single run in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra-innings, knotted 5-5. Peter singled to right field and pinch hitter Scott Thornburg walked. Peter advanced to third on a fielder's choice by Ross, before a single down the left field line from McKewon pushed across the tying run.
The two teams then exchanged scoreless frames into the 15th, when Michael Blatchford stepped into the box for the Bluejays. After injuring his knee in the ninth game of the season, requiring surgery, Blatchford hit a one-out single into left field, hobbling down to first base. Creighton brought in Sunday's starting pitcher Shane Liska to run the bases.
Liska advanced to second when Peter drew a four-pitch walk. Ross then drove in Liska from second with a single that landed between the diving shortstop and center fielder.
The Redbirds scored first in game two, putting up single runs in both the first and second innings on Bluejay starting pitcher Erik Mattingly.
But the Bluejays fought back, putting up single tallies of their own in the third and fourth frames. Jake Peter drew a one-out walk in the third, stealing second on a strikeout. With two outs, Chance Ross hit a single to right field that drove in Peter, sliding safely into home just before the throw.
In the fourth, Anthony Bemboom led off the frame with a single through the left side and was advanced to second on a Nick Judkins sacrifice bunt. Mike Gerber then doubled to right center, scoring Bemboom easily from second base.
Illinois State regained the lead in the top of the fifth inning, using a pair of singles and walk to take the lead. That would be the last run Mattingly would surrender, going 5.0 innings in his fifth MVC start.
The Redbirds put an insurance run up in the top of the seventh off Creighton reliever Nick Musec, again taking advantage of a walk to keep the inning going. A one out single, followed by a stolen base and walk put a runner in scoring position before Mike Hollenbeck singled in the fourth run of the game for ISU, taking a 4-2 lead.
The Bluejay bats were silenced from the fifth inning on, as the Jays put up just one hit and had one base runner in that span, still off ISU starting pitcher Dylan Craig. In his 11th start of the season, Craig allowed just two runs on four hits in his first complete game of his career.
The Redbirds added a pair of runs in the top of the eighth, one off Musec and another when reliever Andrew Urban came in, padding a 6-2 lead going into the bottom half of the eighth inning. A single run in the ninth off Mark Lukowski gave ISU their seventh and final run of the ballgame.
Creighton finished with four hits, with each of the first three batters in the Bluejay lineup picking up a single hit in the night game along with one hit from Gerber. ISU put up 12 hits in game two, a combined 24 hits in the doubleheader.
Creighton and Illinois State will play game three, the rubber match, of the series tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch set for 1:00 pm from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
NOTES: Erik Mattingly made his first start as a position player since starting in the outfield on March 27 against Nebraska-Omaha. He has made four starts on the mound and one as designated hitter during the last month ... Creighton scored three runs in the first inning, marking the seventh time at home this season they have put up at least a single run in the first. The three runs are the second most, however, as they scored five runs in the first against North Dakota on March 17 ... Jake Peter doubled his hit-by-pitch total in game one, reaching base safely twice via hit-by-pitch ... Ty Blach remains without a win in conference play this season, as he earned no decision in his 7.0 innings of work this afternoon ... The 13-inning game marks the longest of the season for the Jays, as well as the longest game, inning wise, in TD Ameritrade Park Omaha history ... Brad McKewon's catch down the left field line to close out the 13th inning may have been the best defensive play of the night. McKewon ran into the foul fence at near-full speed, reaching into the first row to pull the ball back and end the Redbirds half of the frame ... Michael Blatchford made his first appearance since March 4, when he injured his knee sliding into second at UC Davis ... All three of Creighton's weekend starters made appearances in game one. Blach started on the mound, Mattingly started in right field, and Shane Liska made a pinch-running appearance in the 15th inning ... The Bluejays used 21 different players in game one: five pitchers, five pinch hitters, a pinch runner all in addition to the starting lineup ... Creighton has now played in three doubleheaders this season, and has swept one (vs. North Dakota), been swept in one (Southern Illinois) and split the one today ... Mark Lukowski made his first appearance in Missouri Valley Conference play this season in game two, recording the final two outs of the ninth inning.