Down 8-4 entering the eighth, the Creighton baseball team exploded for seven runs in final two frames to claim the season opener, 11-9, on Friday, Feb. 15.
The Bluejays earned a season-opening victory to go to 1-0 on the season, while Dallas Baptist fell to 0-1. It is the fourth straight season opening win for the Jays and the sixth win in the last seven seasons.
Down to their final six outs, Creighton responded with four runs on four hits to tie the game at 8-8. Junior transfer Federico Castagnini led off with a single to right field. Castagnini was forced on a fielder’s choice by sophomore Jake Peter, then junior Mike Gerber delivered his second single to put runners at first and second. A double steal put both runners in scoring position, then a walk to senior Alex Staehely loaded the bases with one out.
A two-run single by freshman Reagan Fowler cut the deficit in half as Fowler laced a single to center. Dallas Baptist called upon its closer Michael Smith, who promptly uncorked a wild pitch to put runners at second and third. Two pitches later, Smith hit senior Michael Blatchford to load the bases for a second time in the inning.
With the game in the balance sophomore Kevin Lamb strode to the plate. Lamb came through in the clutch with a two-run single to left field to knot the game at 8-8.
Dallas Baptist seemed poised to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the eighth as Jamie Garrido led off with a double to right. After a sacrifice bunt moved Garrido, Omaha native Bryan Sova came on to shut the door on the Patriots.
Sova’s performance continued the Jays’ momentum send Creighton to the plate riding an emotional high.
The offense used the emotion to take complete control as McKewon reached on a single to third, then Castagnini drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Peter followed with a sharp single to center, giving the Jays a 9-8 lead. A wild throw allowed Castagnini to score as well, making it 10-8. Gerber added an insurance run via a single to center to give Creighton an 11-8 cushion heading to the ninth.
Sova limited the Patriots to one run on two hits in the ninth to earn his first victory as a Bluejay.
Creighton fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first as Dallas Baptist plated a run off Creighton starterNick Musec on back-to-back doubles with two outs.
The Jays pulled even in the top of the third as sophomore Jake Peter drove home Lamb with a two-out RBI single through the right side. Lamb led off the inning with an infield single and was moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by junior Brad McKewon.
Creighton appeared to take control with three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 4-1. Peter led off the inning with a single to left, then Gerber blasted a single off the foot of Dallas Baptist starter Cy Sneed to put runners at first and second. One out later, Staehely gave Creighton a 2-1 lead with a single to center.
Dallas Baptist went to their bullpen, calling on senior Aaron Gilbreath. Fowler forced Staehely on a fielder’s choice. With runners at the corners, pinch hitter Michael Blatchford laced an RBI single to left to make it 3-1. Finally Lamb plated Fowler with a single through the right side, giving the Jays a 4-1 lead.
The Bluejay lead, however, was short lived as the Patriots scored six runs on three hits, three walks and an error to claim a 7-4 edge.
Dallas Baptist pushed its lead to 8-4 with a run on two hits and a sacrifice in the seventh.
Three Jays finished with three hits, Peter (3-for-6, two RBI), Gerber (3-for-4, RBI) and Lamb (3-for-4, three RBI).
Sova allowed one run on two hits in 1.2 innings for the win (1-0), picking up one strikeout. Dallas Baptist’s Smith suffered the loss (0-1), allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in 0.1 innings.