Baseball Heads to MVC Tournament With Hopes of a Repeat
2012 Creighton Baseball
Creighton Bluejays (22-28, 6-14)
vs. Indiana State Sycamores (41-15, 14-7)
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament • Hammons Field
State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
The Bluejays have been seeded eighth in this week’s State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, held on the campus of Missouri State at Hammons Field. Creighton will square off with Indiana State to open play, a team that took two-of-three from the Jays in Omaha earlier this season. Every game of the opening rounds can be watched for FREE thanks to Valley Live. A link is on the www.gocreighton.com website.
Creighton will be in the A bracket, joined by the No. 1 seed Indiana State (41-15, 14-7), the No. 4 seed Illinois State (31-17, 10-9) and the No. 5 seed Evansville (31-25, 10-11). Bracket A will have the No. 2 seed Missouri State Bears (37-18, 13-7), the No. 3 seed Wichita State (35-23, 12-9), the No. 6 seed Southern Illinois (28-27, 9-12) and the No. 7 seed Bradley (26-25-1, 8-13).
The opening game of the tournament will pit Illinois State against Evansville on Tuesday, May 22 at 9:00 am, followed by Creighton and Indiana State at 12:30 pm. Game three will put Wichita State against Southern Illinois at 4:00 pm with Missouri State and Bradley closing out the day with the 7:30 pm game.
There will be four games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all double elimination. Friday’s games will be played if necessary, should the team with a single loss beat the undefeated team in each bracket. The championship game will have a first pitch of 7:00 pm on Saturday, May 26.
Catch the Jays in Action
All games throughout the MVC Tournament’s opening rounds can be watched live FREE on MVC Live, with a link on the www.gocreighton.com website. Creighton and Indiana State can be heard on Tuesday afternoon on 1180 KOIL, with John Bishop and David Gustafson calling the game. Game times, as well as the host radio station will be announced following the opening round of games.
Fans can also catch the Bluejays on live stats at www.gocreighton.com or follow Creighton’s Twitter page: @gocreighton and @cu_baseball.
Against the Sycamores
Creighton and Indiana State have met up 124 times on the baseball diamond, with the Bluejays holding a 72-52 advantage. The Sycamores took two-of-three games from Creighton in the meeting earlier this season.
The two teams have played in 30 one-run games, with Creighton holding the 17-13 edge, including the series finale last season, a 6-5 win for Creighton.
Creighton has won the series seven of the nine times the two teams have played under Coach Ed Servais, with the lone series loss coming in Omaha in 2010. Servais is 24-8 against the Sycamores.
Not First Timers
The Bluejays and Sycamores have met in the opening round of the MVC Tournament eight times prior to the 2012 opening game. Indiana State has won in six of the eight first round games, including the most recent meeting, an 8-7 win in 10-innings in 2010. Below are the meetings, winner and score:
2010 Indiana State 8-7 (10)
2004 Creighton 14-4
2002 Indiana State 9-7
2000 Indiana State 15-4
1990 Creighton 3-1
1983 Indiana State 13-9
1982 Indiana State 5-2
1978 Indiana State 5-2
We Meet Again
The two teams have met 22 times in Missouri Valley Conference Tournament play, including a pair of Sycamore wins in the 2010 tournament, both to open up play and then to eliminate the Bluejays from the tournament. Indiana State holds a 13-9 record over Creighton in the tournament.
The Sycamores won the first six meetings in the tournament between the two schools, with Creighton not picking up its first win in the tourney until the 1988 season.
Earlier this Season
Indiana State took two of three games from the Bluejays in Omaha earlier this season, with Creighton getting the win on Sunday to avoid the series sweep. Creighton scored just three runs combined in the first two games, including being shut out in the 12-inning Saturday game, but then shutout the high-powered Sycamore offense on Sunday.
Duh-Na-Na-Na, Can’t Touch This
Erik Mattingly threw one of the best, if not the best game, of his career in the 12-inning, 2-0 Indiana State win on Saturday, April 8. The senior who has seen time as an outfielder, relief pitcher and designated hitter before earning a spot in the starting rotation this season threw 9.0 innings of no-hit baseball against the Sycamores earlier this season, but didn’t have any run support. Mattingly earned a no-decision in arguably his best career outing.
Mattingly continued his no-hit streak into his next start against South Dakota State, pushing his streak to 12.0 innings before allowing his first hit.
He was named co-MVC Pitcher of the Week as well as earning National Player of the Week honors following his career-best day.
One Pitcher, Two Pitcher
The Bluejays will likely face-off against left handed pitcher Sean Manaea, who holds a 5-1 mark with a 3.25 ERA in 15 starts this season. Manaea leads the team with 100 strikeouts, holding opponents to a .237 average against while allowing just 33 earned runs. When the two teams played earlier this season, Manaea matched up with Erik Mattingly in the 12-inning game, throwing 9.0 innings of shutout baseball and allowing just five hits while striking out eight Bluejay batters.
Creighton is slated to throw junior Ty Blach, who has put together his best pitching as of late. Blach has a pair of complete games in his last four outings and threw 7.0 scoreless innings Thursday against Wichita State, retiring the final 15 batters of the game. Blach had a rough outing in the first meeting between the Jays and Sycamores this season, surrendering a season-high five earned runs on six hits and allowed three walks. The southpaw did strike out seven in the loss, his third of the season.
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 fourth in the MVC with a 3.50 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.
• Creighton is 7-1 in opening round games under Ed Servais at the MVC Tournament, and 15-14 all-time in opening games.
• Creighton is 21-13 under Ed Servais at the MVC Tournament, with four trips to the finals in eight appearances.
• Creighton reached the finals in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1999 and 2005 before finally winning its first title in 2007. Creighton also lost in the 2009 final, and winning the 2011 title.
• Creighton’s first finals appearance in 1988 ended in a 3-3 tie after the game was called due to rain after eight innings.
• Last year Creighton hosted the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament for the first time since it was contested at Rosenblatt Stadium in 1978.
Home Away From Home
The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament has been held in Springfield, Mo., twice before, with Creighton holding a 5-3 record in games played in the tournament hosted by the Bears. Creighton won the opening game in 2004 against Indiana State in the first appearance in Springfield, and then won the whole tournament with a 4-1 mark in 2007 in Springfield, Mo.
The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament was also held in Springfield, Mo., following the 2007 regular season, the first time the Bluejays won the MVC Tournament crown. Creighton opened the tournament that season with an 8-5 win over Southern Illinois, then eliminated Bradley with a 2-0 win followed by a seven-inning, 17-2 victory.
The Shockers, who were No. 12 in the nation at the time, handed Creighton its first loss of the MVC Tournament, a 2-1 set back in the first game of the tournament before the Bluejays came back to defeat Wichita State 10-9 in 12-innings for the programs first MVC Title.
CU in the Tournament
• The Bluejays are 9-4 in last 3 mvc tournaments, tied for most MVC Tourney wins with Wichita State (also 9-4) in that span.
• Creighton is 4-1 in 1-run games at the MVC Tournament since 2009
• CU has out scored foes 31-9 in the 6th inning during its last 4 MVC Tournaments.
• The Bluejays have out scored teams 23-7 after the 7th inning during the last 4 MVC Tournaments.
• After winning the 2011 MVC Tournament, held at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, Creighton is trying to become first team to repeat its title since Wichita State in 2008 & 2009. The last time a non-Wichita State team repeated was 1996 & 1997 (Missouri State).
In It to Win It
Creighton’s last MVC Tournament title came last season, when the Bluejays won the regular season and tournament crowns for the first time in program history. Creighton had to overcome a second round loss to Missouri State to come through the losers bracket to win four straight, including a 6-5, 12-inning win over the Bears in the if-necessary game. Creighton also won the tournament in 2007, the lone two tournament titles for the Jays.
A Gracious Host
The host school has won its first game in each of the last five MVC Tournaments, and has gone 0-2 just once in the last 16 years (Wichita State in 2001). A top-seeded host school has also won six straight games to open tournament play, dating to a 1997 loss by Wichita State. The host school has won the MVC Tournament in eight of the past 13 years, and 29 times overall in the 57 tournaments contested all-time.
• Each of the last seven times the top seed was also the host school, that team would advance to the MVC Tournament title game.
David vs. Goliath
The MVC Tournament hasn’t always been played in the same format it has the last two years, as just six teams used to get into the tournament. Since Ed Servais took over the role of head Creighton baseball coach in 1994, three of the lowest seeds have defeated the top seed in the tournament opener. However, it hasn’t happened since the tournament was expanded to eight teams.
2004 #6 Evansville def. #1 WSU 8-5
2006 #6 Bradley def. #1 Evansville 6-3
2007 #6 MSU def. #1 WSU 5-2
Someone Needs OT
Each of Creighton’s last three MVC tournaments have featured at least one extra-inning game, as Creighton played a 12-inning game last season, and 10-run games the two prior seasons. The Bluejays have a 5-2 mark when playing in extra-inning games, with the losses coming a the 12-inning, 7-5 loss to Missouri State in 1995 and a 10-inning, 8-7 loss to Indiana State to open the tournament in 2010.
The lone Bluejay on the roster who has picked up MVC All-Tournament Team honors in his career is senior Brandon Koenigstein. Koenigstein earned the honors in 2009 when he threw a 7.0 inning no-hitter against Wichita State. He hit just one batter, nearly throwing a complete game for the Bluejays.
Creighton had four seniors named to the All-Tournament Team last season, with Clay Cuno, Trever Adams and Greg Hellhake joining the MVP Jonas Dufek on the list.
2 and Q
The Bluejays open the conference tournament as the No. 8 seed, looking to open the tournament with an upset. They are also aiming to stay for at least three games. Creighton has never lost the first two games of the MVC Tournament under Ed Servais. The last time a Bluejay team went 0-2 was in 2003, when they lost to Missouri State in the opening round and were eliminated by Indiana State in the loser’s bracket.
The Creighton baseball program has gone 0-2 six times in school history, including four straight appearances starting in 1979.
• Creighton is 9-13 in road games this season, hitting .228 in games away from Omaha. Not a single everyday starter is hitting over .300 outside of Omaha.
• The Jays finished conference play 6-14, winning just one series against Bradley.
• Head coach Ed Servais, the winningest coach in Creighton baseball history, picked up his 500th career win in the 8-1 win over Nebraska on Tuesday, May 8. In his 18th year of coaching, Servais is 504-275-1.
• The 22-28 mark for the Bluejays could prove to be the first sub-.500 season for Servais in his ninth year at Creighton.
• The Bluejays put together their first five-game winning streak of the season from May 5-May 11, out scoring opponents 47-30 and holding a .275 combined average.
• The pitching staff held opponents to a 1.40 ERA in the five-wins, while Bradley, Nebraska, Nebraska-Omaha and game one against Dallas Baptist pitchers combined for a 4.93 ERA.
• The Jays finished the regular season conference schedule with six MVC wins this season, five of which have been won in Creighton’s final at-bat (8-0 win over Indiana State is the lone win they led in the final frames).
• 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 (Southern Illinois and Illinois State).
• Creighton has posted two shutouts this season, both which came at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. They include a 2-0 win over BYU and the 8-0 win over Indiana State. On the flip side, the Bluejays have been shut out six times this season, more than the last five years combined.
• The Jays became a ninth-inning rally machine at Bradley, pushing across seven ninth-inning runs in the three-game series. In total on the year, Creighton has pushed across just 11 runs in the ninth inning. The Bluejays had just one ninth-inning run at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in 2012.
• 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.
At The Plate
• Creighton has struggled offensively this season, coming into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament without a starter hitting over .300. Nick Judkins has flirted with the .300 mark all season, and is sitting a .297 heading into the week.
• The Bluejay offense picked up during the five-game win streak (May 5-May 9), hitting a combined .275. Scott Thornburg led all hitters with a .438 average through the five games, all at the designated hitter spot.
• As a team, the Bluejays have driven in 71 two-out RBI, led by Anthony Bemboom (14) and Nick Judkins (11).
• Five different players have made starts in all 22 road games this season, with Nick Judkins leading the team with a .295 average as a starter on the road.
• In 22 games on the road this season, Creighton sits at 9-13 and is hitting .228 as a team, with Nick Judkins and Chance Ross leading the charge with .295 and .294 averages, respectively.
• Six of Creighton’s 13 total home runs have come on the road this season. The Bluejays hit just one at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, with the final six coming in a doubleheader played at the CU Sports Complex against North Dakota (3/17).
• The lone Bluejay home run at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha was hit by Alex Staehely on March 31 against Evansville.
• Brennan Murphy led all Bluejays with a .400 average from the plate, going 4-10 with a double and RBI. He has reached base safely in the last six games, a career-best streak.
• Murphy had a pair of hits in two different games over the weekend against Wichita State, his sixth and seventh multi-hit games this season.
• Chance Ross hit in the winning run in the 15-inning win over Illinois State on April 28. Ross has 19 RBI this season, while Anthony Bemboom leads the team with 30 RBI, including three last week.
• 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.
• Mike Gerber became the first Bluejay since Darin Ruf in 2008 to hit a grand slam. Gerber drove one out in the first inning of the 12-3 win over North Dakota. Gerber leads the team with three home runs, as well.
• Gabriel Thibodeaux drove out a pair of home runs in game two against North Dakota.
• 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 13-17 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. Ty Blach, 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. Blach has been best as of late, putting together a pair of complete game outings in his last two Friday night starts. Mark Winkelman leads the staff with 31 appearances on the season, holding a 1-1 record in relief on the mound.
• The Creighton pitching staff is significantly better at home this season, holding a 2.67 ERA in games in Omaha (TD Ameritrade Park Omaha and the CU Sports Complex) and a 4.46 ERA on the road.
• The pitching staff has surrendered 63 extra-base hits on the road this season, including 48 home runs, five triples and 10 doubles. As a staff, they have only allowed 54 at home.
• The Bluejay bullpen holds a 4.64 ERA away from home this season, while the starting rotation is combining for a 4.31 ERA on the road.
• Chase Webb leads the Creighton pitching staff on the season, holding a team-low 2.47 earned run average in 28 appearances, but has just one win this year.
• Ty Blach leads all starters with eight starts on the mound away from home this season, holding a team low 2.52 ERA on the road. He is just 2-3, however.
• On the season Blach leads the NCAA with 18 games started, eight more starts than any other Bluejay pitcher this season (Mattingly has 10 starts).
• Ty Blach threw his first career 9.0 inning, complete game against Dallas Baptist on Friday, May 11. It marks the second straight Friday night start the southpaw has thrown a complete game.
• Blach turned around and threw 7.0 scoreless innings against Wichita State in his start last Thursday, surrendering just three hits and surrendering the final 15 straight batters he faced.
• Kurt Spomer had struggled in the early portions of the season, but has been nearly flawless at home this season. The reliever holds a 1.00 ERA at home, allowing just two earned runs in 18.0 innings of work. On the road, Spomer has a 6.57 ERA, surrendering nine earned runs in just 12.1 innings of work.
• Ty Blach finished the Missouri Valley Conference regular season without recording a win as the Friday night starting pitcher. Saturday starter Erik Mattingly also fell in the same boat.
• 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.
• The Creighton pitching staff finished the MVC opening weekend with a 5.25 ERA, the highest in a single weekend this season.
• 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 Indiana State (41-15, 14-7 MVC)
Indiana State won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season crown last week, defeating Missouri State 6-3 in the series opener to clinch the top spot. It marks the fourth crown in school history for the Sycamores, the first outright, as ISU won the East Division of the MVC in 1982 and 1983 and tied with Wichita State for the 1985 title.
The Sycamores, who were picked to finish fourth in the conference this season, have been the hottest team this season, compiling a 41-14 overall record, 14-6 in Valley play. They have series wins over every team in the league this season, the lone team that can claim that honor.
Indiana State comes into the Valley tournament with a .294 overall batting average, tied for second in the league and just .05 behind Illinois State. The Sycamores have a Valley leading 587 hits this season, and are third in the league with 33 home runs. As a team they have stolen 48 bases successfully, fourth best in the league.
Individually, Jeremy Lucus is hitting .363 entering the tournament, leading the team with 52 runs scored, nine home runs and 52 runs driven in. Landon Curry sits at a .325 average, and is the biggest base-stealing threat in the Sycamore lineup, successfully swiping 15 of 16 attempts this season.
On the mound, Creighton will likely see Sean Manaea, who is 5-1 in his 15 starts this season and has 100 strikeouts in his 91.1 innings. The other Sycamore starters are just as potent, however, as Ryan Torgerson holds a 3.03 ERA, 8-3 record and a pair of complete games while Dakota Bacus has three complete games and a 7-3 mark. Out of the bullpen, Reggie Hochstedler and Chris Machado each have three saves on the season.
Meet the Coaches
Creighton: Ed Servais (9th Season): Ed Servais is in his ninth season leading the Creighton baseball program in 2012, holding a 321-193 record while at the helm of CU baseball. He became 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 .623 winning percentage at the helm of the Jays, the top number in school history. He has taken the Bluejays 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, 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 .978 fielding percentage in the last eight seasons, which also leads the country.
Indiana State: Rick Heller (3rd Season): Head coach Rick Heller enters his third season in charge of the Indiana State baseball program in 2012, one season after leading the Sycamores to their third consecutive winning season and their deepest run in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament since 2002. The Sycamores finished 29-28 in 2011, going 8-13 in conference play before making a run to the semifinals of the MVC Tournament. ISU entered the tournament as the sixth seed, but eliminated the third-seeded Illinois State Redbirds before pushing the second-seeded Wichita State Shockers to an elimination game for a spot in the championship game. Heller recorded his 600th win against Central Arkansas on a day when senior Jason Van Skike threw the first nine-inning no-hitter at Indiana State since 1949.
Against the Sycamores
Creighton and Indiana State have met up 124 times on the baseball diamond, with the Bluejays holding a 72-52 advantage. The Sycamores took two-of-three games from Creighton in the meeting earlier this season.
The two teams have played in 30 one-run games, with Creighton holding the 17-13 edge, including the series finale last season, a 6-5 win for Creighton.
Creighton has won the series seven of the nine times the two teams have played under Coach Ed Servais, with the lone series loss coming in Omaha in 2010. Servais is 23-6 against the Sycamores, including an 11-2 mark in Omaha.
• As a team, the Bluejays has not homered in any of Ty Blach’s 18 games started this season.
• Nick Judkins reached base in all 18 of Ty Blach’s starts this season, hitting a team-best .333 in those games. Judkins has reached base in each of Blach’s last 24 appearances on the mound dating to late last year.
• Creighton is 10-8 when Ty Blach starts this season, and 12-20 when anyone else starts on the mound.
• Of Ty Blach’s 18 starts this season, he was in line for the win 11 times when he wrapped up his day on the mound, and he left another game with a tie score, yet is owns a 5-5 record.
• Ty Blach has not allowed an earned run in his last 18.1 innings of work.
• Ty Blach has allowed 0 or 1 earned run in 11 of his 18 starts this year, and 24 of his 47 career starts.
• In his career, Ty Blach is 7-4 in his May starts, including a 65/19 strikeout/walk ratio in 80 innings of work. He is 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA this May.
Doing the Small Things Right
Alex Staehely, Creighton’s starting shortstop this season, has 34 career sacrifice bunts, which is 2nd in MVC history. The junior sits second on the team this season with nine sacrifice bunts, while dropping 13 last season and 12 in 2010.
All nine of Ed Servais’ teams at Creighton have owned 56 or more sacrifice bunts in a season. All other teams in Missouri Valley Conference history own just nine combined seasons of 56 or more sacrifice bunts, with two of those teams being assisted by Servais.
Creighton starting left fielder Brad McKewon is on a current nine game hit streak, looking to become the first player this season to string together 10. He will be the first with 10 or more since Trever Adams put together 18 games from April 23 to May 20 of last season.
What a Difference
Obviously the records between 2011 and 2012 heading into the Missouri Valley Conference are different, but the pitching and defensive stats are eerily similar. Below are the numbers of both seasons when heading into the MVC Tournament.
Record 39-13 22-28
Batting Average .272 .239
Runs Scored 283 213
RBI 257 191
ERA 3.44 3.47
Runs Against 202 203
Avg. Against .243 .249
Move Him Up
Bluejay first baseman Nick Judkins has started all 50 games this season at first base, hitting primarily in the three-hole (40 times in the third spot, six in the second and four as the clean-up batter). But on the season, Judkins leads all Bluejays as a leadoff batter. He has 20 hits in his 43 chances, good for a .444 average as a leadoff.
Chance Ross has been the Bluejay leadoff batter in 44 of the 50 games, and holds a .425 average when leading off an inning.
In the First
Creighton scored one first inning run against Iowa (May 15), marking the eighth time at home this season they have put up at least a single run in the first. The Jays scored five runs in the first against North Dakota on March 17, the most in a single first inning this season.
Chance Ross’ solo home run against Bradley gave Creighton the lead after the first in the 7-4 Saturday win (5/5/12).
The Bluejays also put up runs in the first inning against Nebraska and Nebraska Omaha, pushing across three in the May 8 game vs. the Huskers and one against Nebraska Omaha on May 9.
Creighton has scored 21 runs at home in the first inning this season, against just one run in the ninth inning at home.
Walk This Way
Chance Ross has been the leadoff batter for the Bluejays in 44 games, and has done a good job at getting himself on base. The senior third baseman is second on the team with 25 walks on the season and reached with a hit by pitch 12 times. He holds a .399 on-base percentage, which also leads the team.
In comparison, Ross had 13 total walks last season.
This and That
• The last time a Creighton team dropped five straight games prior to 2012 was May 8 - May 15, 2009.
• Creighton lost five straight games between March 23-30. They enter the series with Wichita State with four straight losses.
• 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.
Creighton finished the 2011 regular season as the MVC champions, finishing conference play with a 15-6 record. A series loss to Wichita State last weekend ensured the Jays of finishing in eighth in the league. There have only been two other times a team has gone from the top of the league to the bottom in back-to-back seasons:
Team Won Last
Missouri State 2009 2010
Southern Illinois 1984 1985
The Bluejays are 6-6 so far in May, holding a 3-3 mark in conference with the series win at Bradley and the series loss against the Shockers. The Bluejays are hitting .263 collectively during the month, with Chance Ross and Nick Judkins leading all players with a .294 and .292 average, respectively. Creighton is out scoring opponents 50-40 during the month and holds a .977 fielding percentage.
On the pitching mound, Andrew Urban (7.1 innings) and Brandon Koenigstein (2.0 innings) are the lone Jays who haven’t surrendered a run in the month. The staff holds a 3.03 ERA in May.
Ty Blach has been the most effective pitcher during the month of May, holding opponents to a .170 average with a 1.08 ERA in his 25.0 appearances. In four starts, Blach has a pair of complete games
Creighton tied a single-inning high in the loss to Dallas Baptist on Sunday, May 13, putting together five hits in the five run fifth inning. Creighton also had five consecutive hits in the win over UNO on Wednesday, May 9.
The Bluejays added a five-run inning in the final regular season series with Wichita State, pushing across five runs in the bottom of the eighth to break the tie and earn the win, 7-3 in the first game of the series (5/17).
Jumping on Top
The Bluejays have now scored first in 27 games this season, including two games last weekend against Dallas Baptist (May 11-May 12) and against Iowa (May 15). The Jays are 18-9 when scoring first, but just 4-19 when opponents score first.
Creighton has scored in the first inning at home eight times this season and 17 times overall this year. The Jays are 13-5 when scoring in the first inning of a game.
The Jays have scored in the 1st inning of its first game each of the past two tournaments.
We Put Together Five…
• Creighton’s 5-0 streak marked the longest win streak of the season for the Jays, besting the previous three-game streak set twice.
• Five different Bluejay pitchers had a 0.00 ERA, with Ty Blach (10.0 innings), Shane Liska (6.0 innings), Chase Webb (5.0 innings), Brandon Koenigstein (2.0 innings) and Andrew Urban (1.0 innings) all helping the team to a 1.40 overall ERA.
• Reese McGraw had a 2-0 record, striking out four in 5.2 innings of work.
• Ty Blach also put together a 2-0 record, including his 9.0 inning complete game against Dallas Baptist (5/11/12).
• The Jays hit .275 collectively, led by Scott Thornburg, Mike Gerber and Anthony Bemboom who are hitting .438, .412, and .350, respectively.
• Eight different Bluejays started and played in all five games, with Brennan Murphy and Jordan Makovicka splitting time in the final position.
• Creighton out scored opponents 46-30 in the five wins, out hitting opponents by nearly 100 points (.275 to .190).
Bluejay head coach Ed Servais surpassed another coaching milestone this season, picking up his 500th career win in the 8-1 win over Nebraska on May 8. The skipper eclipsed his 300th win at Creighton in the 2012 season opener, and is the winningest head coach in Creighton baseball history.
Senior catcher Anthony Bemboom led the Bluejays offensively in the Missouri Valley Conference series at Bradley, helping propel the Jays to their first Valley series win of the 2012 season. Bemboom hit .400 on the week, leading the team with four hits, including a 3-3 day in the 4-2 win on Sunday. Bemboom had a team high .455 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage in the three games.
Reese McGraw pitched flawless innings at Bradley (5/4-5/6), picking up a pair of wins in his two appearances. McGraw finished the weekend with 3.2 innings of no-hit baseball, striking out two batters and not issuing a free pass all weekend (no walks or hit batters). He lowered his ERA to 2.80 at the end of that weekend.
Dodged that Bullet
Creighton won the final two games of the series at Bradley, giving the Jays their first MVC series win of the season. It also gave Creighton a pair of Valley wins on the road, their first two of the season. You have to go back to 1984 to find the last time the Jays failed to win a single Valley game on the road.
Until the Fat Lady Sings
Creighton has five conference wins this season, four of which have come in the final at-bat for the Bluejays. Creighton defeated Evansville 3-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning at home, while also winning 6-5 over Illinois State in the bottom of the 15th inning. The Jays put up four runs in the ninth on Saturday for a 7-4 win and two in the ninth on Sunday for a 4-2 win, both against Bradley.
The Jays closed out the regular season against Wichita State, again needing to win the game in the final at-bat. After Creighton led 2-0 early, the bullpen surrendered a pair of runs before Creighton put up five runs in the eighth to claim a 7-2 win in the opening game of the series.
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 97 runners on base this season, allowing just 30 of them to score.
Below is the list of bullpen pitchers and their inherited runners scored.
Player Inherited Scored
Ryan Knott 1 1
Brandon Koenigstein 4 1
Shane Liska 7 1
Erik Mattingly 2 0
Reese McGraw 9 3
Nick Musec 5 0
Kurt Spomer 14 5
Andrew Urban 3 2
Chase Webb 28 6
Mark Winkelman 24 11
Not Just Another Number
The Bluejays came from behind against Illinois State to win 6-5 in 15-innings on April 28. It marked the first time this season Creighton has won a game when trailing after the eighth inning, with Creighton accomplishing the same feat at Bradley (5/5). 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.
Under Ed Servais, Creighton is just 8-133 when trailing after the eighth inning, and hold a 241-11 mark when leading after the eighth inning.
He Does it All
Erik Mattingly made his first start as a position player against Illinois State (4/28) since starting in the outfield on March 27 against Nebraska-Omaha. He has made six starts on the mound and one as designated hitter during the last month.
Overall on the season, Mattingly has made starts in four different positions: 10 at pitcher, five each as both the left fielder and designated hitter, and three in right field.
One for the Nice Guy
Ty Blach finished conference play without a win this season, as he picked up the loss in his 8.0 innings of work last weekend against Bradley, marking the first complete game for the Bluejays this season. He earned a no-decision in his 7.0 shutout innings against Wichita State, as the Shockers scored a pair of runs in the top of the eighth.
Blach finished the 2012 season with a 0-4 mark in the Valley after finishing 2011 with a 4-1 conference record.
An Unlikely Hero
Michael Blatchford was called upon in the bottom of the 15th inning against Illinois State on April 28, 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.
Using the Staff Well
All three of Creighton’s weekend starters made appearances in game one against Illinois State on April 28. 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.
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.
Hits, Hits, Hits
Creighton has struggled offensively this season, holding a combined .239 average without a single Bluejay starter hitting over .300 heading into the conference tournament. Nick Judkins is the leaders among starters, hitting .297 overall, while Jake Peter and Mike Gerber are each hitting .213, the lowest of everyday starters.
Eight is Great
Ty Blach threw 8.0 complete innings of work in the game on Friday at Bradley (5/4), allowing three runs, but not walking a single batter. It marks the sixth time in his career the junior has gone for 8.0 innings, although he did it just once last season. The six outings, including hits surrendered and strikeouts, are listed below:
Date Opponent K Hits
5/4/12 at Bradley 3 6
2/24/12 at 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
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 150 walks issued this season. The Bluejays sit in the middle of the Valley in hit-batters, plunking 43.
The pitching staff combined to allow just two walks in the wins over Nebraska (5/8) and Nebraska Omaha (5/9), and just two in the mid-week game this week against Iowa (5/15).
Creighton’s combined season high for walks in a single game came against Illinois State, 4/28, when they walked eight batters.
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 on April 28. 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.
The trio combined to throw 7.2 innings of three-hit baseball at Bradley.
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 .239 this season, is nearly 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 19-2 when leading after five innings, but are 3-20 when trailing after the fifth inning.
• Creighton is 2-6 on the season when scoring three runs, but flips that around and is 7-4 when allowing opponents to score exactly three runs.
• The Bluejays have scored their most runs in the first inning, pushing across 35 in the frame. The Jays have now scored 11 runs in the ninth inning, thanks to two the first time they played Nebraska (4/10) and four in the comeback win at Bradley (5/5).
• On the contrary, Creighton is surrendering the most runs late in the game, as opponents have scored 29 runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings, as well as putting up 18 runs in the ninth. Creighton is not surrendering single-digits to opponents in any frame.
If You Build It...
Creighton honored the military in the game Friday night against Wichita State, drawing a season-high crowd of 15,184. That marked the second largest crowd of the season in the NCAA, and third in Creighton history at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
The Creighton and Nebraska game on May 9 drew 12,184 fans, a number bigger than four Major League Baseball attendances from May 8, ousting Chicago (AL) at Cleveland (11,304), Texas at Baltimore (11,263), Toronto at Oakland (10,784) and Washington at Pittsburgh (10,323).
Kid Day on Tuesday against Iowa brought in 11,479 fans, the fourth most in Creighton games at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha and the sixth most in the country this season.
The Bluejays are averaging 4,268 fans at home this season, which should propel Creighton into the top-10 in the nation leading into this week. Wichita State is the only other team in the Valley in the top-25, averaging 3,013 fans to Eck Stadium in each contest, which is good for 19th in the nation.
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.
The Jays are just 4-of-36 in pinch hit situations this season, a .111 average. Blatchford and McKewon join Gabriel Thibodeaux and Petr Zyma on that list.
Creighton did not use a single pinch-hitter in the final series against Wichita State, as all nine position players played all three games straight.
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.
Coming into the Valley tournament, Creighton has turned 41 double plays, hitting into just 26.
The Bluejays hit a pair of home runs at Southern Illinois on Sunday, April 22 (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 13 home runs all season, although six came in the doubleheader vs. North Dakota on March 17.
The Bluejays had just one home run in the 20 games played at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in 2012 (Alex Staehely, March 31 vs. Evansville)
Bluejay center fielder 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 - 24 games), Gerber is third on the team with a .259 average, .388 slugging percentage and .347 on-base percentage. He has four doubles, two triples and a home run, while sitting second with 12 runs driven in during 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.
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 errors at the time. Creighton has 45 total errors this season.
A Little Run Support
Senior Erik Mattingly has been moved into the starting rotation on the mound, sitting second among Bluejay starting pitchers with a 3.02 ERA in 14 appearances, nine starts. But the right -hander sits at 1-4 overall this season, partially because of a lack of run support by the Bluejay offense. In his 56.2 innings of work this season, Creighton has scored just 15 runs while he is on the mound.
That number includes his 12.0 consecutive no-hit innings, spanning from his 9.0 no-hit effort against Indiana State (4/8) to the start against South Dakota State (5/13), 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 first nine-inning no-hitter in Creighton baseball history.
Mattingly was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, as well as picking up MVC Pitcher of the Week honors.
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 up slide, improving his overall average to .220. 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.
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.
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, three in AA and the rest in A ball.
Pat Venditte AAA Yankees
Darin Ruf AA Phillies
Elliott Soto AA Cubs
Jimmy Swift AA Angels
Kirk Clark A+ Astros
Jonas Dufek A Astros
Trever Adams A Rangers
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 eighth in the nation with a .978 fielding percentage, which is tied for second in the conference.
Year Fielding % Place
2012 .978 8th
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
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 14 appearances this season, seven 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 11:5 walk to strikeout ratio this season, giving up six extra base hits. He tied his career-high for strikeouts in a single game (2) against Dallas Baptist (5/12).
• Urban went 3.0 innings without allowing a run in the Tuesday game against Iowa (May 15), using a pair of double plays to retire the first six batters straight in his seventh start of the season.
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.
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.
Ross has started off the game as the leadoff batter in 44 games this season. Nick Judkins is the next closest to that stat, finding himself in the three-spot 40 times this season.
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 22-28 as of (5/20)
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
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 nine 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
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 home stand, 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.
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 center fielder had seven home runs last season in his rookie campaign and has three this season.
Keeping Our Bags Packed
Even though the weather in Omaha had 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 Berkeley, 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 minimum 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 Pepsi/Johnny 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 both weekend series, but falling in the two midweek games at California and Sacramento State.
Not Getting Overtime
The opening game between the Bluejays and Portland 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
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.
Ed Servais became the winningest coach in program history last season, surpassing both Jim Hendry and Jack Dahm to post a 321-193 overall record at the helm of the Jays. He now is in the top-20 in winning percentage among active head coaches, holding a .623 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 continued his success at the start of this season.
Judkins finished the opening 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 first 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 base hit 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