OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton baseball team struggled to get its offense going early in the series opener at Bradley on Friday night, and a ninth inning rally fell short as the Jays dropped game one 3-1. Creighton falls to 16-23 on the season, 3-12 in Valley play while Bradley improves to 25-17-1, 8-8 in the league.
Omaha native Joe Bircher baffled the Bluejay hitters in his sixth conference start this season. The senior allowed just one base runner to reach in the first three innings, as Nick Judkins struck out swinging but safely made it to first on a wild pitch.
Bircher had four strikeouts through the first three innings, and got a little run support thanks to a two run home run off the bat of Braves leadoff batter Chris Godinez in the bottom of the third frame.
Bluejay starter Ty Blach had an outstanding day on the mound, throwing the first complete game of the season for the Bluejays. The southpaw surrendered six hits through his 8.0 innings of work. Blach put up six scoreless frames, striking out three and not allowing a free base in his sixth Valley start.
Creighton put a pair of runners on in the fourth inning, giving them their best chance in the first eight frames to score. Brad McKewon led off the inning with a walk before Nick Judkins singled to right field. A sacrifice bunt from Anthony Bemboom put both runners in scoring position with just one out.
A shallow fly out to right field and a ground out on the infield ended the threat.
Bradley put up a single run in the home half of the seventh inning, again using an infield single to start a rally and push across a run.
Judkins started off the rally in the ninth inning when he reached safely thanks to an error by the Braves second baseman. Bemboom then walked, before Alex Staehely singled down the left field line to score Judkins. A fly out to right field by Gerber gave the Braves two outs with runners on first and second.
A bloop pop up off the bat of Scott Thornburg landed right in the glove of Bradley shortstop Jason Leblebijian, who was also standing on second base, doubling off Bemboom for the final out of the game.
Judkins led the Bluejays on Friday, going 2-4 with a run scored. Staehely picked up the only other hit on the night.
The two teams play game two of the series tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch set for 2:00 pm.
NOTES: Ty Blach is still looking for his first win in conference play this season, as he currently sits at 0-4 in MVC play ... Two of Bradley's three runs reached base on an infield base hit. In the third inning, David Compitello singled to shortstop and scored on the home run. Austin Jarvis bounced one back up the middle that Alex Staehely stopped, but couldn't get him out at first. Jarvis scored the third run of the game ... The complete game marks the first for the Bluejays since Jonas Dufek had one in the NCAA Tournament against Georgia ... Joe Bircher is an Omaha native, hailing from Roncalli High School. He is the Bradley career strikeout leader with 287 and is just one strikeout away from becoming just the fifth Bradley pitcher to throw 100 strikeouts in a season ... Creighton has now lost at least once in the series in every meeting in Peoria since 1990 ... The Bluejays are now 1-5 in the MVC opener this season.