NORMAL, Ill. - In a game that saw both starting pitchers out by the bottom of the second, the Creighton baseball team suffered a 4-3 loss to No. 6 Indiana State in the opening game of the 2013 MVC Tournament on Tuesday, May 21.
Creighton's loss dropped the Jays to 30-17 on the season, while Indiana State moved to 25-23 overall.
Down 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Bluejays made a furious attempt to snatch the game. Senior Jordan Makovicka opened the frame with a pinch-hit single to left. Two outs later, junior Federico Castagnini worked a full-count walk and sophomore Jake Peter beat out an infield single to load the bases. Trailing by three, senior Mike Gerber strode to the plate and smacked a two-run single into center to make it 4-3. Unfortunately the Jays rally came a little to late as senior Alex Staehely was retired on a hard hit ground ball to third.
The game started simply enough with a hitless top of the first, but Indiana State starter Sean Manaea was lifted in the bottom of the first before he threw a pitch due to an injury. Sycamore reliever Josh Negele was given as much time as he needed to get ready, but Creighton was unable to capitalize.
In the top of the second, four walks led to the demise of Creighton starter freshman Tommy Strunc as he was lifted with two out in the inning. Bluejay sophomore Mark Lukowski got the Jays out of the inning with just the one run via a groundout.
The Sycamores added a run in the third two hits and another RBI groundout to extend their lead to 2-0.
The Bluejays missed a chance to cut into the deficit in the third as Castagnini grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Creighton had the bags juiced with one down again in the sixth. This time Staehely got Creighton on the board with a sacrifice fly to plate Castagnini.
Lukowski pitched very well for the Jays, keeping it at 2-1 into the eighth. Indiana State, however, greeted senior Mark Winkelman with two solo blasts in his inning to push the lead to 4-1.
Strunc suffered the loss (7-3), allowing one run on four walks. Negele moved to 3-1 with the win, allowing one run on seven hits in 5.1 innings. Greg Kuhlman came on to get the final out in the ninth for his second save, retiring Staehely with the tying run at second.
Creighton had 11 hits as a team, led by three from Peter. The Jays also drew five walks, but Creighton stranded 11 runners in the loss.
Creighton will battle No. 2 Wichita State in an elimination game on Wednesday, May 22 at 9 a.m. The Shockers dropped a 5-1 decision to No. 7 Southern Illinois in the second game of the MVC Tournament.