Creighton improved to 8-2 in Missouri Valley Conference baseball action, while also moving its overall record above .500 for the first time this season (16-15), following a 3-2 win over UNI. Just one other series, Evansville at Wichita State, was able to be played out, as inclement weather got the best of the Valley's other matchups. The Shockers were a 6-2 winner over the Purple Aces behind a career-high 10 strikeouts by sophomore pitcher Tim Kelley.
Friday's games betwen Bradley and Indiana State, Missouri State and Illinois State and Southern Illinois and non-conference foe Jacksonville State, were postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions. Teams are re-scheduled for doubleheader action on Saturday afternoon.
Creighton 3, Northern Iowa 2
CU (16-15, 8-2 MVC); UNI (13-17, 2-8 MVC)
OMAHA, Neb. -- The Creighton baseball team improved to over .500 for the first time on the season (16-15, 8-2 MVC) with its 3-2 win over Northern Iowa, Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium. It was the team's eighth win in the last nine games.
The Jays did not get through the game without some adversity as starter Jeremy Hauer loaded the bases in the third, courtesy of a hit-by-pitch, a walk and single, with just one out. Luckily for the hometown fans, Elliot Soto fielded a ground ball to start the 42nd double play of the season for the team, and end the threat by Northern Iowa.
Creighton took advantage of the defensive stand in the bottom of the third as Nick Becker singled to start a one-out rally. Robbie Knight walked and Elliot Soto loaded the bases as UNI right fielder Levi Ferguson dropped a routine fly ball allowing everyone to move up one base. Darin Ruf took advantage of the miscue, doubling into the right-center gap. A bizarre play ensued as Soto nearly passed Knight on the basepaths, causing the two to reach home plate at about the same time. Panther catcher Jeff Taliafero tagged out Knight, but missed Soto, allowing two runs to score on the play.
Unfortunately the lead would not hold, as UNI pinch hitter Andy Steichen hit a two-run home run to right in the top of the sixth, tying the game at 2-2.
The Panthers threatened to take the lead in the top of the seventh as they loaded the bases with two outs. That is as far as the rally would go, as Bob Lackovic got Jason Summer to hit a line drive to center that Knight laid out for, making a highlight-reel catch, and keeping the game tied.
In the bottom of the inning Jimmy Swift led off with a single to right, and advanced to second on a passed ball. He came around to score on Scott Thornburg's single to center, giving Creighton the 3-2 lead. After a pair of walks to Becker and Knight loaded the bases, Soto struck out looking before Ruf flied to center, ending the inning.
Hauer finished the day going 6.0 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck out two and walked one, and received a no-decision. Lackovic (3-0) got the win, throwing 1.1 scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit and two walks, while striking out one.
Wichita State 6, Evansville 2
WSU (19-12, 4-1 MVC); UE (13-17, 3-7 MVC)
WICHITA, Kan. -- Starter Tim Kelley did not allow an earned run in eight innings on the mound to give the Shockers room to score in three-consecutive trips to the plate to knock off the Evansville Purple Aces on Friday night, 6-2.
For his fourth start in a row, right-handed Kelley (3-2) threw at least seven innings. The sophomore went eight innings on Friday night and matched his career-high 10 strikeouts while surrendering five hits. Both runs charged to Kelley were unearned en route to his third victory of the season.
While Kelley’s counterpart, Evansville starter Wade Kapteyn (2-5), tossed his fifth-consecutive start of at least seven innings or more, he lacked the offensive help that Kelley had in the first game of the series. Kapteyn went all eight for the Purple Aces, giving up six runsfive earnedand striking out just two Shockers.
Junior centerfielder Ryan Jones paced the Shocker offense with a 2-for-4 day and an RBI. Playing in the designated hitter role, freshman Chris O’Brien did his part with a solo shot in the second.
Kelley started and ended the first with strikeouts, but the Purple Aces tried to rally in between. Kelley rolled through the first two outs of the first inning with a pair of strikeouts before third baseman Cody Fick sent a line drive to the gap in right-center. Although Kelley gave up a free pass to follow, he sat the next on strikes to strikeout the side.
Evansville’s luck worsened in its next at bat as Kelley needed only six pitches to end the inning, and worsened further when the Shocks reached the plate in the second. O’Brien led off the inning with his fifth homer of the season. Catcher Cody Lassley and left fielder Bret Bascue kept it going with back-to-back singles. Moving runners with flawless execution, two groundballs to the right side scored Lassley and Bascue to give the Shockers an early lead, 3-0.
Jones’ second single of the evening knocked in freshman shortstop Tyler Grimes, who reached on an error. Junior first baseman Clint McKeever smacked Kapteyn’s offering back up the middle, moving Jones to third. The upper class tandem on the base paths carried out a double steal to score Jones, pushing the Shocks out to a 5-0 lead.
The Shockers threw the Aces a ladder in the top of the fourth. Evansville took advantage of three Shocker miscues to scratch a pair of unearned runs across and close the gap, 5-2. Unfazed, WSU’s lineup got one back in its half of the inning using a sophomore Mitch Caster single and a sacrifice fly by Grimes.
Kelley tossed another six-pitch inning in the sixth, helping himself to a longer outing. After Friday night, Kelley has thrown at least six innings in each of his eight starts this season.
Kapteyn caught on, and each starter kept their respective offenses quiet to keep both teams off the scoreboard for three-straight innings. After sitting the Aces down in order in the eighth, Kelley called it a night for freshman Chance Sossamon. The right-hander struck out the side in the ninth.
The Shockers and the Purple Aces will finish the three-game series on Saturday with a doubleheader. Originally scheduled as a game apiece on Saturday and Sunday, looming storm forecasts for Sunday prompted the doubleheader.