Baseball Travels to Peoria for Three Game Series at Bradley

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Courtesy: Eric Francis
2012 Creighton Baseball
Creighton Bluejays (16-22, 3-11 MVC)
at Bradley Braves (24-17-1, 7-8 MVC)
May 4-6, 2012 • Peoria, Ill. • O’Brien Field

This Weekend
    Creighton travels to Peoria, Ill., this weekend for its final road series of the 2012 regular season.  The Bluejays are looking for their first road win in conference play, as they are 0-6 in two series on the road and sit 7-12 overall on the road this year.
    Creighton baseball can be heard on the radio this weekend, with John Bishop and David Gustafson calling the broadcasts on 1620 the Zone all weekend.   Also follow live stats at and updates via Twitter @gocreighton and @_cubaseball.
    The games can also be seen via live video provided by the Braves.  Check out the link on the schedule page of

What’s Next?
    Creighton returns home for the final nine regular-season games, six of which are non-conference.  Nebraska will make another trip to Omaha on May 8, with Nebraska-Omaha coming to TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on Wednesday, May 9.  Dallas Baptist, who has played nearly every team in The Valley this season, comes to Omaha May 11-13, followed by a return from Iowa (May 15). 
    The Bluejays wrap up the regular-season hosting Wichita State May 17-19.  The MVC Tournament will be played May 22-26 in Springfield, Mo., hosted by Missouri State.

Bradley Braves
Record: 24-17-1 • Location: Peoria, Ill. • Enrollment: 5,801
Head Coach: Elvis Dominguez (4th Year)
Career Record: 261-311-3 • School Record: 83-112-1
Assistant Coaches: John Corbin, Sean Lyons and Ross Winter
2011 Record: 22-32, 4-17 in MVC (8th) • Starters returning/lost: 7/2

Quick Hits
• Creighton is 7-12 on the road this season, hitting .234 in games played away from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha this season.
• That includes an 0-6 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play on the road, as Creighton was swept at both Missouri State and Southern Illinois.
• Creighton split the series last weekend with Illinois State, with the Bluejays winning game one 6-5 in 15-innings and Illinois State coming back to win game two 7-2.
• Rain not only canceled the third game of the series between Creighton and Illinois State, it also forced the teams to play a doubleheader on Saturday.  Rain has canceled four games already this season and forced the Jays to play doubleheaders in back-to-back conference series.
• Creighton’s bullpen has allowed just 20-of-70 inherited runners to score this year, allowing just three of 22 runners to score when at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
• The Bluejays scored more runs (6) in the first four innings of the game against Indiana State on Sunday, April 8, than they had in any full Valley game up to that point in the season.  Creighton posted six runs against Southern Illinois in game two of that series (4/21), as well as six runs in the 15-inning win over Illinois State (4/28).
• Creighton has posted two shutouts this season, a 2-0 win over BYU and the 8-0 win over Indiana State.  On the flipside, the Bluejays have been shut out five times this season, more than the last five years combined.
• The 15-innings it took to win the game against Illinois State (4/28) marked a TD Ameritrade Park Omaha record for innings in a single game.  It also marks Creighton’s longest game since 1989, when the Jays defeated Kansas 7-5 in a 16-inning game.
• Creighton set a TD Ameritrade Park Omaha record on Tuesday, April 3, by hitting seven doubles in a single game.  The previous best at the park was six, hit by Creighton in a 16-6 win over Bradley on May 1 of last season.
• Creighton finished March with a 9-10 record, the first time the Jays have finished the month with a sub-.500 record in Ed Servais’ tenure (finished 7-10 in 2003).
Nick Judkins led the Bluejays in the month of March, hitting .351 with 17 runs driven in. 

Coming into 2012
    The Bluejays are coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history, finishing 2011 with a 45-16 overall record.  Creighton won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles in 2011, marking the first time in program history the Jays have claimed both in a single season. 
    Creighton returned seven starting position players from the squad last season, led by centerfielder Mike Gerber and senior catcher Anthony Bemboom, both which were tabbed preseason All-MVC.  Gerber finished with a .280 average last season, playing flawless defense in center, while Bemboom shot down seven runners attempting to steal and finished with a .233 average.
    Highlighting a deep pitching staff will be junior Ty Blach, who has already picked up preseason All-America nods.  The southpaw held a 10-3 record last season, fanning 100 batters in 102.0 innings of work.  Out of the pen, which lost just one pitcher from last season (Jack VanLeur), look for Kurt Spomer (13 saves in 2011),Mark Winkelman (35 appearances) and Reese McGraw (35 appearances, 5 saves) to headline one of the deepest staff’s in Ed Servais’’ tenure.

At The Plate
• Creighton has struggled offensivley this season, coming into the weekend series at Bradley without a starter hitting over .300.  Nick Judkins was over the .300 mark for much of the season, but now sits at .299.
• On the road, Creighton is hitting .234 as a team, with Nick Judkins and Chance Ross leading the charge with .324 and .296 averages, respectively.
Brad McKewon led the Bluejays offensively last week, hitting .333 in three starts in left field.  He has started in 28 of the 35 games he has played in.
• Creighton had just four extra-base hits last week, all doubles, but didn’t pick up a triple or home run.
Chance Ross hit in the winning run in the 15-inning win over Illinois State on April 28.  Ross has 13 RBI this season, while Anthony Bemboom leads the team with 25 RBI.
•  Mike Gerber led the team with three RBI last week, using a double to push his RBI total to 24. He has eight multi-RBI games this season.
Jordan Makovicka took advantage of a pair of starts in left field against Southern Illinois (4/21), hitting .333 with a team-high three walks. 
• Since April 21, Makovicka is second on the team with four walks and is 1-1 in stolen bases in his last three starts.
• The Bluejays picked up just 19 hits in the three games last week, but struck out 25 times.  They also picked up four walks, led by Jake Peter’s four walks.
Alex Staehely hit his first home run of the 2012 season against Evansville, also marking the lone home run at TD Amertirade Park Omaha by the Bluejays in 2012.
Mike Gerber became the first Bluejay since Darin Ruf in 2008 to hit a grand slam.  Gerber drove ont out in the first inning of the 12-3 win over North Dakota.
Gabriel Thibodeaux drove out a pair of home runs in game two against North Dakota.  The senior, who has seen most of his time as the designated hitter, is now tied for the team lead with a pair of bombs.
Petr Zyma picked up his first start of his Bluejay career against South Dakota State, playing flawless defense.  Zyma now has three at-bats, with one hit (a home run against North Dakota) and a pair of runs scored.
Brennan Murphy was a perfect 3-3 in stolen bases while in California last week and now sits 6-6 on the season.  Chance Ross leads the Bluejays at 9-11 on the season. The school record for stolen bases in a season is 52, but a player hasn’t stolen more than 27 bases since 2002.
    On the pitcher’s mound, six different Bluejay pitchers have made starts this season.  Erik Mattingly and Shane Liska have turned in impressive performances to earn spots in the starting rotation.  Mattingly put together a 9.0 inning, no-hit effort in the Saturday, April 7 12-inning loss to Indiana State, while Liska picked up his first win as a Bluejay in the 8-0 shutout of Indiana State, April 8.  Mark Winkelman leads the staff with 25 appearances on the season, holding a 1-0 record in relief on the mound.

• The Creighton pitching staff finished the MVC opening weekend with a 5.25 ERA, the highest in a single weekend this season.
• Creighton’s pitching staff holds a 4.73 ERA on the road this season.
• The Bluejay bullpen holds a 1.83 ERA at home this season, with four different players holding flawless relief outings (Chase Webb, Erik Mattingly, Nick Musec, Mark Lukowski).
•  The bullpen hasn’t been quite as stellar on the road.  The bullpen holds a 4.96 ERA allowing 46 runs in games away from home.
Chase Webb leads the Creighton pitching staff on the season, holding a team-low 2.15 earned run average in 19 appearances, but has just one win this year.
Ty Blach has yet to record a win in Missouri Valley Conference play this season, as does Saturday starter Erik Mattingly.
• The Creighton pitching staff had a combined 0.50 ERA in the first two games at home this season, allowing just one earned run in the two games combined. 
Ty Blach and Reese McGraw have each been named MVC Pitchers of the Week already this season.
• Freshman Mark Lukowski made his first appearances on the mound in California; Lukowski tossed a pair of innings at Sacramento State and Pacific.

A Look at Bradley (24-17-1, 7-8 MVC)
    Bradley finished the 2011 season 22-32, eighth in the MVC with a 4-17 mark in conference play, but returned seven starters and is off to a 24-17-1 start overall, sitting sixth in the conference with a 7-8 mark.  The Braves are coming off a series win at Evansville last weekend, where they put up 15 runs in the three games and won on both Friday and Sunday.  They have wins over Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Indiana State and Illinois State this season.
    The Braves are 5-5 at O’Brien Field this season, with three of those wins coming in conference play.  Bradley is hitting .279 as a team, with four everyday starters hitting over .300.  Chris Godinez (.376), Rob Elliott (.346), Max Murphy (.331) and Greg Partyka (.303) each have over 100 at bats and are still hitting better than .300.  Jason Leblebijian has a team-high 14 doubles this seaosn, while Partyka and Murphy each have eight home runs.
    Omaha native Joe Bircher headlines the Braves pitching staff.  The Friday night starter holds a 2.34 ERA with a 6-1 mark in 11 starts this season.  He has thrown all three complete games by the Braves staff this season, striking out 90 batters while walking just 14 on the year.  Danny Gifford will come out of the bullpen, holding a team-high six saves this season.
    Bradley is 33-51 in stolen bases, and has layed down 33 sacrifice bunts this season.

Meet the Coaches
Creighton: Ed Servais (9th Season): Ed Servais enters his ninth season leading the Creighton baseball program in 2012.  He is the winningest coach in program history, surpassing Jack Dahm (283) and Jim Hendry (289) in 2011, when he led his team to a 45-16 overall record, Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.  Servais was named the MVC Coach of the Year following the 2011 season, the fourth time he has earned the award in his eight years at Creighton.
    Servais currently holds a .644 winning percentage at the helm of the Jays, the top number in school history. He has taken the Bluejys to three NCAA Tournaments, including 2011.  He has also led the Bluejays to an average of 37 wins in each of the last eight seasons.
    Servais’ tenure has ranked among the best as a Creighton head coach, as he has guided the team to a 315-187 record, placing him second in the Missouri Valley Conference, fifth in the Midwest, and in the top 20 in the nation in winning percentage during that time. The Bluejays are one of just 10 schools in the Midwest to earn five or more NCAA Regional berths in the last 13 years, and one of two in the MVC along with Wichita State. Servais also has led the Jays to the MVC Tournament title in 2007 and regular-season crown in 2005, and both in the 2011 season.
    His teams have finished among the nation’s best in fielding percentage and sacrifice bunts every season, including 2011, when the Bluejays finished fourth in fielding percentage (.980) and fourth in sacrifice bunts, with 84.   Since coming to Creighton, Servais’ teams have committed the fewest errors in the nation, while holding a .977 fielding percentage in the last eight seasons, which also leads the country.

Bradley: Elvis Dominguez (4th Season): Dominguez begins his 11th year as a collegiate head coach with a 237-294-2 career record, including a 59-95 mark in his first three seasons at Bradley.
    Dominguez’s journey to Bradley is an amazing example of fulfilling the “Great American Dream.”  Dominguez was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, but fled the country with his family as a child in settled in Miami.  A standout baseball player, Dominguez put his athletic talents to good use by earning a baseball scholarship to Creighton University, helping him become the first member of his family to attend, and ultimately graduate, college.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from Creighton in secondary education in 1986.
    A four-year starter at shortstop for the Bluejays, Dominguez led the team with a .348 batting average as a senior.
    Following graduation, Dominguez began his coaching career with the Bluejays in 1986-87 by serving as a graduate assistant for Jim Hendry, who is now the Vice President and General Manager of the Chicago Cubs.
    After being promoted to a full-time assistant coach during his second year on the Creighton staff, Dominguez earned his first head-coaching job in 1988 as Omaha Central High School’s varsity baseball coach. He returned to Creighton in the fall of 1992 as the Bluejays’ top assistant, working as the infield instructor and hitting coach for five seasons (1993-97).
    Dominguez, 48, has 21 years of college coaching experience, including seven seasons as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University.  During his career, Dominguez has recruited and coached eight players that advanced to the Major Leagues, 22 All-Americans and three Ohio Valley Conference Players of the Year.

The Series
    Creighton holds a 70-45 lead over Bradley in the overall series, including winning all four games between the two teams last season.  Creighton swept the series in Omaha, part of the final regular-season push to win the Valley regular-season title.  The Jays then downed the Braves in the opening round of the MVC Tournament.
    The Bluejays have won 12 straight games in Omaha, but have not swept a series in Peoria since the format went to just three-game series.  The Jays are 8-5 in Peoria under head coach Ed Servais.
    This is the first time since 2004 the two teams are starting their series in May.  The Bluejays and Braves faced off April 29, 30 and May 1 last season.
    Creighton is currently on a six-game win streak vs. the Braves.
Not Just Another Number
    The Bluejays came from behind against Illinois State to win 6-5 in 15-innings last weekend.  It markst he first time this season Creighton has won a game when trailing after the eighth inning.  In fact, the last time Creighton did that was on April 3, 2011, when the Jays  were down 3-2 to Portland and put up a pair of runs in the ninth to win. 
    Chance Ross was a key part in both late inning rallies.  In 2011, he scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth, and this year Ross drove in the game winning run.
    Under Ed Servais, Creighton is just 7-129 when trailing after the eighth inning, and hold a 236-10 mark when leading after the eighth inning.

He Does it All
    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. 

In the First
    Creighton scored three runs in the first inning of game one against Illinois State (April 28), 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.

Two-Out Rally
    Seven of Creighton’s eight runs last weekend came on two-out RBI’s.  And while it has been a struggle to push runs across as of late, over a thrid of Creighton’s total RBI output this season have come with two-outs (56-146).

One for the Nice Guy
    Ty Blach remains without a win in conference play this season, as he earned no decision in his 7.0 innings of work last weekend against Illinois State.
    Blach finished the 2011 season with a 4-1 mark in The Valley.

An Unlikely Hero
    Michael Blatchford was called upon in the bottom of the 15th inning against Illinois State last weekend, picking up a one-out single that started the rally to win the game 6-5 for Creighton.  It marked Blatchford’s first appearance since March 4, when he injured his knee sliding into second at UC Davis.
    Creighton skipper Ed Servais then turned to Sunday starter Shane Liska as a pinch runner, and the Xavier transfer crossed the plate with the game-winning run on Chance Ross’ single to center.

Walk This Way
    In the last 10 games, freshman Jake Peter has struggled from the plate, hitting just .194 with six hits.  Two of the six hits are doubles and one was his second home run of the season.  In that span, however, he has a team-high eight walks and has been hit-by-pitch two times, picking up a combined 10 free bases.  He has a .390 on-base percentage in the last 10 games.

Using the Staff Well
    All three of Creighton’s weekend starters made appearances in game one against Illinois State last weekend.  Ty Blach started on the mound, Eric 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.

Double Duty
    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 two games against Illinois State last weekend.

Hits, Hits, Hits
    Creighton has struggled offensively this season, holding a combined .232 average with not one single player hitting over .300 heading into the weekend. 

What a Relief
    Bluejay relievers Reese McGraw, Chase Webb and Kurt Spomer each put up scoreless innings to close out the 15-inning win over Illinois State last weekend.  McGraw started things off with 2.2 innings on the mound, allowing just two hits while striking out two.  Webb followed with 2.0 innings, also surrendering a pair of hits but not allowing any of the 11 batters faced to score.
    Spomer picked up his first Valley win of the season, closing out the game with 3.0 flawless innings on the mound.  The senior struck out one batter and did not surrender a single hit in his 22nd outing of the season.

A Different Sort of Record
    Creighton’s struggling offense this season marks the lowest combined batting average under head coach Ed Servais.  The team, which is hitting .232 this season, is 30 points under the previous low, set in 2011 when the Jays hit .267, but finished 45-16 overall on the season. 
    The all-time lowest team batting average came in 1971 when the team collectively hit .229.

Inning by Inning
• The Bluejays are 14-0 when leading after five innings, but are 2-18 when trailing after the fifth inning.
• Creighton is 2-6 on the season when scoring three runs, but flips that around and is 6-3 when allowing opponents to score exactly three runs.
• The Bluejays have scored their most runs in the first inning, pushing across 28.  The Jays have scored just four runs in the ninth inning, two the first time they played Nebraska (4/10).
• On the contrary, Creighton is surrendering the most runs in the fifth inning, allowing 28 in the frame.  They are not surrendering single-digits to opponents in any frame.

If You Build It...
    Creighton hosted Nebraska on Tuesday, playing in front of the largest home crowd this season of 9,684 fans.   
    The Bluejays are averaging 3,075 fans at home this season, which sits 18th in the nation this week.  Wichita State is the only other team in the Valley in the top-25, averaging 2,897 fans to Eck Stadium in each contest.

The Hot Corner
    Chance Ross has picked up his offense in the last 10 games, hitting .308 in that span with a double, triple and team-leading 12 hits and seven RBI.
    He joins Brennan Murphy as the only two Bluejays hitting over .300 in the last 10 games, as Murphy is hitting .313. 

Double Dingers
    Jake Peter’s first career home run against SIU on Sunday was the second of the game for the Bluejays, who have now hit at least two home runs in two different games this season.

In a Pinch
    While Creighton has struggled overall in pinch hit situations, Brad McKewon’s two-RBI single in the sixth inning on Sunday, April 22 helped keep Creighton in the series finale game at Southern Illinois.
    Michael Blatchford then became the hero in the win on April 28 over Illinois State, ripping a single to left field and hobbling down the first base line.

No 6-4-3
    The Creighton defense has been among the nations leaders in double plays per game in the past, and had turned 33 double plays going into the weekend at Southern Illinois. It marked the first weekend this season that Creighton did not turn a single double play against their opponent, while the Jays hit into just one.

Five Centuries
    Bluejay head coach Ed Servais is quickly approaching his 500th career win.  The skipper elipsed his 300th win at Creighton in the 2012 season opener, but is now just three wins away (497-267-1) from his 500th overall win as a college head coach.

Smallish Ball
    The Bluejays hit a pair of home runs at Southern Illinois on Sunday (a two run shot from Mike Gerber and a career-first from Jake Peter), marking just the second time this season the Jays have hit multiple home runs in a single game (also against North Dakota on March 17 - hit five).
    Creighton has 12 home runs all season, although six came in the doubleheader vs. North Dakota on March 17.
    The Bluejays have just one home run in the 12 games played at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha (Alex Staehely, March 31 vs. Evansville)

Top and Bottom
    The Creighton pitching staff has continued to get stronger as the season has progressed.  After putting up a season high 5.19 ERA over the weekend at UC Davis (March 2-4), the Bluejay staff has significantly improved, sitting third in the MVC with a 3.38 overall earned run average.  Creighton’s best weekend series came against Indiana State, when the Bluejays held the high-powered Sycamore offense to just six earned runs on the weekend, and a 1.80 ERA.

    Bluejay centerfielder Mike Gerber started off the season slow, but has turned things up in the last couple of weeks.  Since the start of the Indiana State series (April 6), Geber is second on the team (behind Chance Ross) with a .333 batting average, .567 slugging percentage and .417 on base percentage.  He has a pair of doubles, a triple and a home run, while also sitting tied for first with five walks in that time frame.
    Gerber hit a two-run home run in the second inning of game three at Southern Illinois over the weekend, finishing the day 1-2 with two runs scored and two runs driven in.  He also walked a pair of times on the afternoon.

April Showers Bring May Flowers
    Creighton has opened April 3-9, holding a combined .226 average.  The lone Bluejay hitting better than .300 during the month of April is  Brennan Murphy, (.300).
    In comparison, the Bluejays went 13-5 in April of 2011, hitting .272 as a team.  Trever Adams (.452), Alex Staehely (.323) and Mike Gerber (.320) led the Bluejays through the month.  Creighton went on to hit .255 and finish May 14-4 with both an MVC regular season and tournametnt title.

Spider Webb
    Chase Webb picked up his first win of the season on Saturday, March 31 against Evansville, extending his scoreless inning streak to 10.1 innings in the process.  Webb has made seven appearances in MVC play, tossing 11.1 innings and surrendering just one earned run for a 0.79 ERA.  He has 10 strikeouts in his MVC appearances.

Uncharacteristic Errors
    The Bluejay defense had an uncharacteristic week in the infield, committing six combined errors in their three games from April 9-15 (including three the last game against Nebraska).  That accounted for over 20-percent of the Bluejays 28 total errors this season.

A Little Run Support
    Senior Erik Mattingly has recently been moved into the starting rotation on the mound, holding a team-low 2.08 ERA in five starts.  But the right hander sits at 0-2 overall this season, partially because of a lack of run support by the Bluejay offense.  In his 40.2 innings of work this season, Creighton has scored just seven runs while he is on the mound. 
    That number includes his 12.0 consecutive no-hit innings, without a single run from the Bluejay offense.

The Best of the Best
    In the greatest pitching performance of his career, Bluejay pitcher Erik Mattingly went 9.0 innings without surrendering a hit and striking out three in his Saturday, April 7 start against Indiana State. The right hander hit one batter in the first inning and another reached by error, but Mattingly retired the rest of the Sycamore lineup in order in the 2-0, 12-inning loss for the Bluejays. Mattingly’s outing would have been the firstnine-inning no-hitter in Creighton baseball history.
    On the season, Mattingly has a team-low 1.42 ERA in eight appearances and three starts. He has struck out 13 batters and is holding opponents to a .167 batting average against.
    Mattingly was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, as well as picking up MVC Pitcher of the Week honors.

In the Ninth
    The Bluejays put up a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday, April 10 against Nebraska, doubling their ninth inning output of the whole season in one game.  Although the Bluejay rally fell short, the ninth inning remains the hardest to score in, as the team has scored just three runs in the frame, while has put up double-digit numbers in each of the other frames.

    Bluejay shortstop Alex Staehely had his roughest start to a season in 2012, not picking up a hit until his third game and still hitting .171 in game 9 of the year.  Since then, Staehely has been on the upslide, improving his overall average to .223.  He had reached base safely in 13 straight games, the second longest streak in 2012.
    Chance Ross owns the top streak this season, as the senior started off the season reaching base safely in 19 straight games.

    Bluejay junior shortstop Alex Staehely has played in every game since stepping on campus at Creighton, and until Sunday, April 15, had started every game (144) straight.  Staehely was not allowed to start due to coaches decisions following an ejection from the game on Friday night against SDSU. 
    Petr Zyma was put in the starting lineup for the first time, starting at second base while Jake Peter moved over to shortstop.
    Staehely came into the game in the third inning, first as a pinch-hitter and then returning to his position at short.

Doubling Up
    Creighton set a new TD Ameritrade Park Omaha record with seven doubles in the win against Kansas on Tuesday, April 3.  The Bluejays have twice hit five doubles this season (at Portland and at Pacific), but hadn’t hit more than one in a game since March 17 against North Dakota. 
    It also marked the biggest doubles output in a single game since they also hit seven doubles against Wichita State on May 8, 2004.
    As a team, Creighton hit 14 doubles that week, led by Nick Judkins’ four.  Chance Ross, Alex Staehely, Jake Peter and Scott Thornburg each had two doubles on the week.
    Freshman Jake Peter led the team with two doubles against Kansas.  Peter had four doubles in his first five games, but just one in the next 18 before the April 3 game.
    It marks the third time this season a single player has hit a pair of doubles in a game, as Scott Thornburg hit two against Portland and Judkins had a pair against Indiana State.

Tough at the Top
    The first four batters in the Bluejay lineup combined for six of Creighton’s 10 hits in the 7-3 win over Kansas on Tuesday, April 3.  The four batters (Brad McKewon, Chance Ross, Nick Judkins and Anthony Bemboom) are Creighton’s top everyday starting players this season.

Keeping Up With the Joneses
    The Creighton baseball program carries a great deal of tradition, including players that are still playing in the Minor Leagues.  Seven former Bluejays are still active, with one playing AAA ball, a pair in AA and the rest in A ball.
    Pat Venditte    AAA    Yankees
    Darin Ruf    AA    Phillies
    Elliott Soto    AA    Cubs
    Kirk Clark    A+    Astros
    Jimmy Swift    A+    Angels
    Jonas Dufek    A    Astros
    Trever Adams    A    Rangers

D-D-D-D Fence
    The Creighton baseball team has always been known for their defense, sitting in the top-10 since head coach Ed Servais took over the Bluejay program.  Currently, the Jays are ninth in the nation with a .978 fielding percentage, which also puts them first in the conference.
    Year    Fielding %    Place
    2012    .978    9th
    2011    .981    5th
    2010    .980    4th
    2009    .980    2nd
    2008    .976    3rd
    2007    .974    8th
    2006    .965    87th
    2005    .972    17th
    2004    .982    1st
    2003    .962    103rd

You Just Stay There
    One way to keep a spot in the Creighton bullpen is to limit the runs you allow to cross the plate.  The staff has come into the game with 70 runners on base this season, allowing just 20 of them to score.  In the game against Kansas, Brandon Koenigstein (making just his third relief appearance) inherited runners on second and third base, but got all three outs to strand the runners on the bases.
    The Creighton bullpen had not allowed an inherited run to score since the Missouri State finale (3/25), before Chase Webb allowed all three inherited runners to score on April 15 vs. SDSU.
    Player    Inherited    Scored
    Brandon Koenigstein    3    1
    Shane Liska    7    1
    Erik Mattingly    2    0
    Reese McGraw    4    0
    Nick Musec    5    0
    Kurt Spomer    11    4
    Chase Webb    19    5
    Mark Winkelman    17    7

Check Him Out
Andrew Urban became the first Bluejay newcomer since Ty Blach’s freshman year to make it into the starting rotation in his first year on campus. The JUCO transfer is the first since Jeremy Hauer to make it into the starting rotation since 2008-09.
• Urban has made nine appearances this season, six of which were starts.
• Urban’s longest outing this season was 5.2 innings, allowing a pair of unearned runs on three hits against North Dakota (3/17).
• Urban holds an 8:3 walk to strikeout ratio this season, giving up six extra base hits.

Welcome Back!
    Michael Mutcheson made his first appearance in 23 games Tuesday, April 3 against Kansas, finishing 1-3 from the plate with a walk and a double.  He missed the middle of the season with a back injury after starting the first two games of the season at second base.

Tag Team
    Mark Winkelman (2.0), Kurt Spomer (1.0) and Reese McGraw (1.0) combined for the final four innings of the game in the midweek game against Kansas (4/3), not allowing a single Kansas runner to reach base safely.  The three combined for five strikeouts in the four innings.

Make them Earn It
    While the Creighton pitching staff has shown its depth and power both at times this season, the one thing it has been best at is limiting the amount of walks issued.  Creighton leads the league with just 104 walks issued theis season. The Bluejays sit in the middle of the Valley in hit-batters, plunking 36.
    The pitching staff did not allow a single walk in the 5-2 loss at Nebraska on April 10.

Back in Business
    In his most explosive offensive week of the season, Alex Staehely led the team with a .308 average, picking up four hits including his first home run of the 2012 season from March 25-April 1. His solo shot in the Saturday win over Evansville also marked the first home run hit out of TD Ameritrade Park Omaha this season. Staheley led the team with a .538 slugging percentage, driving in one run and adding on on his own. The junior also picked up a pair of walks on the week, helping his on-base percentage to a team-high .400.

Leading Off
    For the first time this season, the Bluejays sent a different batter to the plate to start off the game on Saturday, March 31, against Evansville.  Chance Ross had been the first batter in the Bluejay lineup for the first 23 games of the season, when hot-hitting Brad McKewon earned the spot.  McKewon finished the day 3-5 from the plate.
    Three different players have now seen time in the leadoff spot, with Jordan Makovicka joining both Ross and McKewon in the order.

Free Baseball
    The Bluejays have already been a part of five extra inning games this season, defeating Central Arkansas 7-3, falling 3-2 at Portland, winning 3-2 against Evansville and falling 2-0 in 12-innings against Indiana State.  The Bluejays have played at least four extra inning games the last five years, with six extra frame games in each of the last three years.

Been Here Before
    2012 doesn’t mark the first time the Bluejays have started with an 11-11 mark.  In fact, Creighton has had worse starts in the Ed Servais tenure.  Below are the first 22 games, along with the complete record at the end of the season in the last 10 years:
    2012    11-11    ??
    2011    17-5    45-16 overall
    2010    14-8    27-25 overall
    2009    8-14    31-25 overall
    2008    15-7    37-21 overall
    2007    13-9    45-16 overall
    2006    17-5    31-21 overall
    2005    17-5    48-17 overall
    2004    12-10    35-24 overall
    2003    7-15    20-37 overall
    2002    11-11    30-24 overall

This and That
• The last time a Creighton team dropped five straight games prior to 2012 was May 8 - May 15, 2009

• The Bluejays loss against Nebraska Omaha on March 27 was the first loss in 10 games against the Mavs.

• The last time Creighton scored just five runs in four consecutive game combined was to close out the 2003 season, when the Jays beat Bradley 2-0 in a pair of game, lost to Missouri State 5-1 and to Indiana State 2-0 in the MVC Tournament.  Creighton scored just five runs from March 23-27, 2012.

Stellar Stats
    Brad McKewon was the bright spot in the Bluejays offense over the opening MVC weekend at Missouri State, leading the Jays with a 5-for-11 (.455) performance from the plate in the conference opening weekend.  The sophomore outfielder was the lone player to record three hits in a game on the weekend, putting up a three-spot in the Friday night game.  McKewon had a .455 slugging percentage, and used a walk to aid his on-base percentage, safely reaching .500 percent of the time.  McKewon put down one sacrifice bunt and was 1-1 in stolen bases on the weekend.

In the Conference Opener
    Creighton holds an 11-16 overall record in Missouri Valley Conference openers since 1984.  The Bluejays are now 4-5 in the opening game under head coach Ed Servais.
2012    L    0-3    Missouri State
2011    L    4-5    Illinois State
2010    W    4-2    Southern Illinois
2009    W    7-3    Indiana State
2008    L    8-9    Missouri State
2007    L    0-6    Evansville
2006    L    0-4    Bradley
2005    W    8-2    Illinois State
2004    W    2-0    Missouri State

In the Conference Series Opener
    Head coach Ed Servais is 6-3 in the MVC series opener in his first eight years, with the lone series losses coming at Missouri State this season, in 2008 and at Bradley in 2006.  The Bluejays have swept just once in the series opener under Servais, a three-game sweep of Illinois State in 2005, while 2012 marked the first time the Jays have been swept on opening weekend under Ed Servais.  Overall, Creighton holds a 13-12-3 record in MVC Opening series.

Conference Series Openers Under Servais
2012    0-3    @ Missouri State
2011    2-1    @ Illinois State
2010    2-1    @ Southern Illinois
2009     2-1    @ Indiana State
2008    1-2    @ Missouri State
2007    2-1     @ Evansville
2006    1-2    @ Bradley
2005    3-0    @ Illinois State
2004    2-1    @ Missouri State

Life on the Road
    Creighton has opened the Missouri Valley Conference portion of their schedule on the road each of the last eight years under Ed Servais.  The Bluejays haven’t hosted the opening MVC weekend since 2003, when they hosted Missouri State in a four game series.  The Jays split with the Bears, Creighton winning the first two games (3-2 and 4-3) and MSU taking the final two (11-1, 4-2).  The Bluejays have also hosted MVC opening weekends in 1993, 1992, 1991 and 1989

Putting up a Donut
    Erik Mattingly has made nine appearances on the mound in different games this season, holding a team-low 1.50 earned run average.  The senior, who also sees playing time in the outfield and as the designated hitter, has made scoreless appearances five of the eight outings this season, allowing five earned runs on 21 hits this season. 
* Mattingly went a career-high 9.0 innings against Indiana State on April 7.  He struck out three batters and didn’t allow a hit in his near no-hit bid.
* He then extended that streak at the opening of the South Dakota State game, finishing with 12.0 consecutive no-hit innings.
* Mattingly is holding his opponents to a .200 batting average against when at home this season, allowing just seven hits in 18.0 innings of work.

Happy on the Home Mound
    The Bluejay pitching staff has had its struggles early this season, but turned things around immenselyin the first five games at home March 13-17), holding a combined 1.20 earned run average and posting a 4-1 record.  Nine different Bluejays posted flawless outings on the mound, with seven of the nine pitching at least 2.2 innings.  Andrew Urban made a pair of starts, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings with a 1-0 record, while Mark Winkelman, Reese McGraw and Kurt Spomer combined out of the bullpen to make nine appearances and surrender seven hits total in 10.1 innings of work.  The trio did not surrender a run through the week.
    On the season, the Creighton pitching staff holds a 2.46 ERA at home, holding opponents to a .229 batting average.

Valley’s Best
     Creighton baseball senior Anthony Bemboom was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week, as announced by the league office Monday.  It marks the first time the senior from Sauk Rapids, Minn., has earned the award.
    Bemboom led the Bluejays offensively last week, picking up a team-high eight hits and scoring five runs to lead the Jays to a 4-1 week.  In the five-game homestand, Bemboom hit .471, starting all five games.  He had a .824 slugging percentage, picking up 14 total bases on the week thanks to three doubles and a home run.  Bemboom went a perfect 4-4 from the plate with a pair of singles, a double and a solo home run in the 16-3 win over North Dakota on Saturday afternoon.  The senior did not strike out on the week, the only Bluejay in the starting lineup to accomplish the feat last week.  He led the Bluejays with a .550 on-base percentage with three walks.

Offensive Explosion
    The Bluejays put up a combined 28 runs on 27 hits in the doubleheader wins over North Dakota on Saturday, March 17. It is the largest output of runs in two consecutive games since 2006, when the Jays scored 30 runs in wins over Belmont and Tennessee Tech.
    The game marked the lone return of the season to the CU Sports Complex, the former home of the Creighton baseball team.

Ain’t Life Grand
    Sophomore Mike Gerber hit Creighton’s first grand slam since 2008 (Darin Ruf) in the win over North Dakota on Saturday, March 17. The Bluejay centerfielder had seven home runs last season in his rookie campaign and already has two this season.

This and That
* Creighton has now won the opening home series in nine of the last 10 seasons. The Bluejays have now hit at least one triple in four straight games, one in four of the five home games this homestand.

* Brad McKewon, Gabriel Thibodeaux and Petr Zyma each hit their first career home run as a Bluejay in game two on Saturday, March 17 vs. North Dakota.

* Anthony Bemboom had four hits in game two on Saturday, March 17 against North Dakota, coming just a triple short of hitting for the cycle.  The last player to do that was Ryan Fitzgerald in 2003

* Anthony Bemboom tied his single-game high with eight bases in the second game against North Dakota.

* Creighton hit six home runs total in the afternoon series against UND (March 17), doubling their total on the season (3) in one afternoon.

* Nick Musec improved to 3-0 following the win against North Dakota on Saturday, March 17, joining Ty Blach as the first two Jays with three wins on the season.

The Real Stuff
    The Bluejays have spent a good amount of time this preseason practicing outside, thanks to beautiful weather and a mild winter.  The Jays played the opening weekend on a field with turf infield and grass outfield.  They then played on all grass in the lone game played at Portland, but made the switch back to a combination field when playing at Lower Columbia College for the final game against the Pilots (switched due to rain).  TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, the home of the Bluejays, is a completely natural field.

Keeping Our Bags Packed
    Even though the weather in Omaha has been unseasonably warm, with temperatures making it into the 60’s on some days and the snow off the field, Creighton opened up the 2012 season with 13 straight road games.  The Bluejays spent time in Arkansas, Oregon, and a week in California, traveling 8,629 miles.

Omaha to Conway, Ark. and back        1160 mi.
Omaha to Portland Ore. and back        2732 mi.
Portland, Ore. to Longmont, Wash. and back     96 mi.
Omaha to Sacramento, Calif.     2688 mi.
Sacramento, Calif. to Berkely, Calif. and back     156 mi.
Sacramento, Calif. to Stockton, Calif.     48 mi.
Stockton, Calif. to San Francisco, Calif.     83 mi.
San Francisco, Calif. to Omaha     1666 mi.

The Top of the Charts
    Ty Blach was tabbed the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week following the opening weekend of play, the first time in his career he has earned the award.  Blach picked up the first win on the mound in 2012, striking out six batters in 5.0 innings of work on Friday, Feb. 17.

Give Us Another
    Reese McGraw was named the MVC Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 28, after the second weekend of play.  McGraw made a pair of appearances on the weekend at UC Davis, each one a scoreless affair on the mound.  The right-hander picked up his first save of the season in the 7-6 win on Friday, tossing 2.0 scoreless, hitless innings in relief.  He struck out a pair of batters and faced just the minumum in his two innings.  In the win on Sunday, McGraw threw another 2.1 innings of scoreless baseball, surrendering just two hits and striking out one to pick up his second win of the season (2-1).

It’s Was Good to be Back
    A Creighton baseball team hasn’t made a trip to California since 2000, when the Bluejays took part in the Pspsi/ohnny Quik Classic held at Fresno State.  In the final year of participation, the Bluejays went 5-1, with wins over Bowling Green (4-1), Temple (15-0), Fresno State (12-3), Gonzaga (11-2), and UNC-Asheville (5-3), before dropping the final game to host Fresno State 5-1.
    The Bluejays finished the Spring Break Trip to California 4-4, taking two-of-three in bothweekend series, but falling in the two midweek games at California and Sacramento State.

Eight is Great
    Ty Blach threw 8.0 complete innings of work in the game on Friday at Portland, allowing just one earned run and two hits.  It marks the fifth time in his career the junior has gone for 8.0 innings, although he did it just once last season.  The five outings, including hits surrendered and strikeouts, are listed below:
    Date    Opponent    K    Hits
    2/24/12    @ Portland    2    2
    2/20/11    vs. Missouri State    8    4
    4/4/10    vs. Indiana State    4    5
    4/18/10    at Bradley    6    6
    4/25/10    at Missouri State    6    6

Not Getting Overtime
    The opening game between the Bluejays and Pilots on Friday, February 24, was on pace to be one of the quickest games in the last three seasons for the Bluejays, as Ty Blach and Kyle Kraus were at the seventh inning stretch just 1:17 into the game.  It helped that Blach threw a first-pitch strike to 21 of the 28 batters he faced.  Below are the five fastest recorded games in the last three seasons for the Jays:
Date    Opponent    Pitcher of Record    Time
3/19/11    vs Valparaiso    Jonas Dufek    1:25
5/6/11    at Wichita State    Ty Blach    1:36
6/3/11    vs Georgia    Jonas Dufek    1:50
4/27/10    Air Force    Jack VanLeur    1:54
4/25/10    at Missouri State    Ty Blach    1:57

Clearing the Bullpen
    Creighton used seven pitchers in the two games at Portland (Feb. 24-26), tossing five different Jays in the rain-delayed second game.  On the opening weekend, the Jays used 10 different pitchers in the three games, none tossing more than 5.0 innings.  Below shows the innings pitched per player over the first weekend.
Ty Blach    8.0    1.12
Brandon Koenigstein    3.1    8.10
Chase Webb    2.1    0.00
Reese McGraw    1.2    5.40
Kurt Spomer     1.0    9.00
Nick Musec    0.2    0.00
Mark Winkelman    0.2    27.00

Walk This Way
    Chance Ross has been the leadoff batter for the Bluejays in 27 games, and has done a good job at getting himself on base.  The senior third baseman is second on the team with 19 walks on the season and reached with a hit by pitch 11 times.  He holds a .410 on-base percentage, which also leads the team. 
    In comparison, Ross had 13 total walks last season.

Switching it Up
    Creighton used three different defensive starting lineups on opening weekend, as Ed Servais looks to find the perfect combination.  Brad McKewon, Anthony Bemboom and Erik Mattingly all saw time in left field, while Michael Mutcheson and Jake Peter were each in at second base.  Bemboom and Scott Thornburg split catching duties through the weekend.

Midevil Warrior
   Head coach Ed Servais surpassed the first of  a pair of milestones he will be looking to overcome in the 2012 season.  Servais earned his  300th as a Bluejay head coach (314-286) with the first win of the season, a 4-3 victory over Central Arkansas.  The skipper needs just five wins to get his 500th of his career (495-263-1).

Big Dog
    Ed Servais became the winningest coach in program history last season, surpassing both Jim Hendry and Jack Dahm to post a 314-280 overall record at the helm of the Jays.  He now is in the top-20 in winning percentage among active head coaches, holding a .644 overall record.  Servais was also named the MVC Coach of the Year, picking up the honor for the fourth time in his first eight years at Creighton.

Offseason Pays Off
    Nick Judkins was named to the All-Star team of the Northwoods League this summer, Judkins hit .309 with a .414 on-base percentage for the Mankato MoonDogs and has contiuned his success at the start of this season.
    Judkins finished the weekend 4-for-12 (.333) from the plate, scoring three runs and driving in three. His two-run home run put the Bluejays on the board first in the final game of the series, the fi rst round-tripper of the season for the Jays. Judkins added a double and finished with a .667 slugging percentage to add to his .429 on-base percentage. Judkins was one of three Bluejays with a stolen base on the opening weekend. The senior also played flawless defense, error-free in 31 chances at first base.

New Kids On The Block
    Andrew Urban became the first fresh face to make it into the starting rotation since Ty Blach earned a spot as the Sunday starter midway through his freshman season (2010).  Urban is the first junior college transfer to start in the rotation since Jeremy Hauer started in 2008-09 (Hauer transferred from Indian Hills, Urban from Hutchinson CC).
    Jake Peter earned his first start on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Central Arkansas, finishing 1-2 from the plate, while playing second base.  Peter drove in a run and picked up his first collegiate basehit in the same at-bat.  Alex Staehely, who has made the switch to second base, also started at second base as a true freshman.
    Making his first appearance for the Bluejays on opening weekend was Shane Liska.  The graduate student and transfer from Duke tossed 0.2 inning in the Sunday, Feb. 19 game, striking out one and hitting a batter.
    Replacing Trever Adams in right field, Brennan Murphy started every game on the weekend, finishing 4-for-12 with an RBI and two runs scored.  He also finished 2-for-2 on the basepaths to pace the Jays on the first weekend

Bigger, Stronger, Faster
    Nick Judkins needed just three games to send out Creighton’s first home run of the season, lining a two-run shot over the right field fence in the 5-1 win over Central Arkansas on Feb. 19.  Creighton didn’t have a home run until the seventh game of the season last year, when Anthony Bemboom drove out a three-run shot in the seventh inning at New Mexico on Feb. 26.

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