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Junior Federico Castagnini led Creighton with three hits.
Courtesy: Mike Spomer

Five-run 11th Lifts Baseball to 9-4 Victory Over Illinois State

NORMAL, Ill. - Freshman Tommy Clouthier capped a five-run rally in the top of the 11th with a three-run double to right, lifting the Bluejay baseball team past Illinois State, 9-4, on Sunday, May 5. 

Creighton salvaged the series finale after dropping the first two games at Illinois State to move to 25-13 overall and 9-6 in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play.  Illinois State, meanwhile, saw its 13-game winning streak snapped as the Redbirds fell to 31-17 on the season and 11-4 in the MVC.

Junior Brad McKewon opened the 11th by bouncing a single up the middle.  Junior Federico Castagnini tried to sacrifice McKewon to second, but pitcher Jeremy Rhoades sailed the throw to second into center field.  The error allowed McKewon to take third.  The Jays sent sophomore Jake Peter to the plate and his single to left brought in McKewon with the eventual game-winning run.  

After a sacrifice moved the runners to second and third, senior Alex Staehely was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Senior Brennan Murphy worked a five pitch walk to make it 6-4, one out later Clouthier put the game out of reach with a three-run double to right.  It was Clouthier's first hit as a Bluejay.

McKewon also got the Jays off to a fast start in the first by smacking triple into left-center to open the game.  Castagnini followed by lacing the first pitch he saw into right field for an RBI single.

Illinois State pulled even with a run in the fourth on an RBI single from Kyle Stanton.  Bluejay starter, freshman Austin Groth, avoided further damage by inducing an inning ending fly out from Brock Stewart to leave the bases loaded. 

Creighton reclaimed the lead in the sixth via and RBI single from senior Michael Blatchford.  Senior Alex Staehely opened the sixth with a double down the left field line, drawking chalk.  Junior Brennan Murphy sacrificed Staehely to third, then Blatchford blasted a single past a drawn-in infield to give Creighton a 2-1 lead.

The Redbirds came right back to tie it at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth on a solo home run over the right field wall by Mike Hollenbeck.

Staehely got things going for the Jays again in the eighth, leading off with a single up the middle. Murphy sent him to second with a sacrifice, then Staehely took third on a fly ball to right by Blatchford.  Freshman Ryan Fitzgerald smoked an RBI single to right to make it 3-2.

The Jays pushed their lead to 4-2 in the ninth as McKewon laced a single to center that got away from away from Redbird centerfielder, Chad Hinshaw.  McKewon went all the way to third on the error, then scored on Castagnini's second RBI single to right.

Peter came on to close the door in the ninth, but Illinois State's Brock Stewart had other ideas.  The trouble began with a one-out single to left by Paul DeJong.  Stewart followed with a game-tying home run over the right field wall. 

Peter maintained his composure and prevented further damage in the ninth and the tenth to pick up his second win of the season (2-0).  Peter allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in two innings of work. Sophomore Mark Lukowski worked a perfect 11th to close the door.

Offensively McKewon, Castagnini and Staehley each finished with three hits, while Clouthier led the way with three RBI.

Creighton returns home to host South Dakota State in a mid-week contest on Wednesday, May 8 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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