Spend any time downtown in Omaha this weekend? Parking lots throughout North Downtown were jammed full, but not because the Creighton baseball team was at home at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. The NCAA Tournament took over the CenturyLink Center and every surrounding concrete slab, relegating Ed Servais’ team back to the CU Sports Complex on Creighton’s campus.
The Bluejays, fresh off a midweek sweep of BYU and Louisiana Tech, hosted the North Dakota Fighting Sioux for a single game Friday and a twin bill Saturday. Temperatures in the upper 70s treated the cozy crowd at the complex to an entertaining weekend of baseball.
North Dakota 4, Creighton 1
Blach stranded pitcher (and number three hitter in the UND lineup) Jeff Campbell after his two-out double, getting out of the first inning unscathed. But he would surrender a one-out home run in the top of the second to Zack Trygstad, putting CU in an early hole.
The Bluejays tried to score the tying run in their half of the fourth, but Nick Judkins got thrown out at home trying to score on a foul out to left field. Then, in the North Dakota sixth inning, Creighton’s normally steady defense coughed up two unearned runs. With two outs, Chance Ross committed an error that lead to two UND tallies, giving the Sioux a 3-0 lead. Ross would reach base via an error in the bottom of the sixth and score on an Anthony Bemboom double, but that would be CU’s only run in the game. A Blach error in the seventh would lead to UND’s final run, giving the Fighting Sioux the first game of the series.
Blach suffered his first loss of the season, surrendering just one earned run (four total) while striking out nine and walking just one North Dakota batter. His counterpart Campbell went the distance, giving up one run (unearned) to win his first game of the season.
Creighton 12, North Dakota 3
The Bluejays and Fighting Sioux showed up to the CU Sports Complex Saturday for a doubleheader, and Mother Nature greeted them with windy conditions that turned Creighton’s home field into a launching pad.
Andrew Urban started on the mound for the Jays, earning a win with 5.2 innings of two-run (unearned) pitching. The Bluejays staked Urban to a 5-0 lead, thanks to a bases-loaded RBI single from Alex Staehely and a grand slam by Mike Gerber.
North Dakota cut Creighton’s lead to 5-2 thanks to two unearned runs. But the Fighting Sioux defense committed six errors in the game, and the Bluejays took advantage. They plated three more runs in the sixth inning, as Brennan Murphy and Ross reached base with one out and Brad McKewon scored them both with a triple. Judkins brought McKewon home with a single to wrap the scoring in that inning.
The Jays scored more runs in the seventh inning. Murphy had a run-scoring single to plate Gerber, Gabriel Thibodeaux scored on a McKewon sacrifice fly, and Ross and Murphy scored on a two-out single by Anthony Bemboom.
The Bluejays bullpen made the runs stand up, relieving Urban with two outs in the North Dakota half of the sixth inning. Mark Winkelman (1.1 innings pitched), Mark Lukowski (1.0), Ryan Knott (0.1), and Shane Liska (0.2) pitched scoreless relief, and Ryan Price gave up the only other Fighting Sioux run.
Creighton 16, North Dakota 3
The Creighton bats kept a torrid pace in the second game Saturday. The Bluejays scored at least one run in every inning, providing plenty of support for Nick Musec (5.0 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts) to push his record to 3-0. The Bluejays recorded 16 hits to North Dakota’s 10; unlike the Sioux, CU capitalized on the contact.
The first inning saw Creighton score in typical Servais ball fashion. Ross led off with a single, then went to second base on a wild pitch. McKewon sacrificed Ross to third, who then scored on a Judkins sac fly. But with two outs and no one on, Bemboom drilled a homer to make the score 2-0 CU.
McKewon collected two RBI in the second inning with a single that scored Ross and Thibodeaux. Judkins led off the third with a triple, and Bemboom scored him with a double. Bemboom would score on a Staehely sac fly (Servais Ball!), pushing the Creighton lead to 6-0 after three frames.
McKewon knocked in his third run of the game with a two-out solo homer in the fourth inning, and the Jays followed with five more scores in the fifth. Staehely had a bases-loaded single to score Bemboom and Scott Thornburg, and then Thibodeaux hit a three-run blast out of the CU Sports Complex to push Creighton’s lead to 12-0.
Staehely brought pinch runner Murphy in from third base with two outs in the sixth inning for CU’s thirteenth run, and then pinch hitter Petr Zyma led off the seventh with a solo shot. Thibodeaux hit his second home run of the game in the eighth inning, and Judkins knocked in Zyma one out later after Zyma walked following Thibodeaux’s homer.
Again, the bullpen kept things in line for Creighton’s starting pitcher. Erik Mattingly, Kurt Spomer, Brandon Koenigstein, and Reese McGraw each pitched one inning in relief, surrendering no runs and allowing just three North Dakota hits while striking out four Fighting Sioux batters.