Creighton Scores Twice in Ninth to Edge Bears, 4-3
May 16, 2013
OMAHA, Neb.- Creighton's two-run rally in the ninth inning wiped out a late Missouri State lead and handed the Bluejays a 4-3 victory over the Bears Thursday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park. Kevin Lamb's two-out single to center drove in the game-winner for CU moments after pinch hitter Tommy Clouthier plated the equalizing run with a sacrifice fly.
The Bluejays' comeback from a 3-2 deficit began with a Reagan Fowler base hit to lead off the inning, and Brennan Murphy placed a bunt single up the first base line to put a pair of CU runners on base with nobody out. Michael Blatchford bunted both runners over, and Clouthier fought off three two-strike offerings from Erik Shannahan before lofting a fly to center that proved to be deep enough to bring in Fowler with the tying run. Shannahan jumped ahead with an 0-2 count on Lamb, but the 'Jays' No. 9 hitter laced a line drive into center, and Murphy slid around Luke Voit's tag at the plate to give the home team the walk off victory with their third two-out tally of the day.
Creighton's (29-15, 12-7 MVC) late rally negated a ninth-inning score by the Bears, who took a one-run lead thanks to some shaky defense from one of the nation's top fielding clubs. Keenen Maddox's bouncer to third got through Federico Castagnini for a lead-off error, and a passed ball by Lamb moved the MSU senior into scoring position. CU reliever Bryan Sova retired Voit and Spencer Johnson on fly balls for the first and second outs, but pinch hitter Conor Smith lined an 0-2 pitch from Mark Winkelman through the left side of the infield to drive home Maddox with the go-ahead run.
Winkelman (6-0), who earned the win despite allowing a pair of ninth-inning singles, was able to keep it a one-run game by retiring Joey Hawkins on a bases-loaded bunt attempt to end the Bears' threat.
Brad McKewon singled, doubled and tripled and scored a pair of runs in four trips to the plate, while Murphy added two hits to pace the Creighton attack.
The loss for the Bears (29-20, 11-8 MVC) -- their fourth straight in Missouri Valley Conference play -- dropped MSU into fourth place in the MVC standings and spoiled a strong start from Nick Petree, who permitted a pair of runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking none in seven innings. The Bears' junior hurler surrendered a 2-1 lead in the sixth, however, as Jake Peter brought in the tying run with a two-out single after McKewon doubled with one out.
That followed a two-run strike by the Bears in the top half of the sixth, as CU starter Tommy Strunc hit Hawkins and walked Eric Cheray to set up Missouri State's first scoring rally of the game. Sacrifices by Tate Matheny and Maddox produced the first MSU run, and Voit put the Bears on top with a two-out single up the middle.
Creighton jumped on top in the first, claiming a 1-0 lead as lead-off man Brad McKewon singled to right, moved to second on a Federico Castagnini sacrifice and scored on Alex Staehely's two-out double over the head of Maddox in left. Given the early advantage, Strunc made quick work of the Bears by setting down the first six hitters of the game. Dylan Becker gave MSU its first baserunner by coaxing a walk after a 10-pitch battle with Strunc to start the third, but the CU hurler would get the next three batters in order to work his way out of trouble.
Despite putting its lead-off man on base in each of the next two innings, MSU would come up empty in both to stretch their scoreless drought to 19 consecutive innings in MVC play. Follwing their two-run rally in the sixth, the Bears would not threaten again until the ninth, as Sova retired seven straight before Maddox reached base to set up MSU's only other scoring rally of the afternoon.
Shannahan (2-1) worked the Bears out of an eighth-inning jam by striking out Staehely after relieving Matt Hall with two out and the bases loaded. The senior right-hander was tagged with the loss for MSU after allowing both ninth-inning runs on three hits, however.
The two clubs will meet again Friday (May 17) evening at 7 p.m. for game two of their three-game series.