Sophomore Jake Peter supplied two RBI and slammed the door in the ninth to earn his third save of the season as Creighton downed Omaha, 4-3, in the series opener on Friday, March 29.
The win lifted the Jays to 13-5 on the season, while the Mavericks fell to 5-13.
The Bluejays jumped out to an early advantage with single runs in the second, third and fourth frames. Creighton’s first run came via walks to seniors Alex Staehely and Brennan Murphy, followed by a two-out RBI knock up the middle by freshman Ryan Fitzgerald.
Junior Brad McKewon was hit by a pitch to open the third, moved to second via a sacrifice and scored on an RBI single from Peter. Creighton’s lead grew to 3-0 in the fourth on a bunt single by Murphy, a walk to Fitzgerald, a sacrifice bunt and a balk from Omaha’s Sam Murphy.
Bluejay starter, freshman Tommy Strunc, was perfect through four but struggled at the onset of the fifth. Strunc walked the first two batters, then gave up an infield single to load the bases. The next Omaha batter, Connor Messinger, forced in the first Maverick run with the third walk of the inning. Senior Mark Winkelman came on to induce a double play, followed by a short fly out to end Omaha’s threat and preserve the Jays’ lead at 3-2.
The Mavericks, however, knotted the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth on an RBI infield single from Alex Schultz.
The game was tied for mere moments as the Jays reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the frame Sophomore Kevin Lamb led off with a single to left. Attempting to bunt Lamb into scoring position, McKewon reached second on an error sending Lamb to third. One out later, Peter lifted a fly ball into foul territory in left. Following the catch, McKewon was able to force Omaha catcher, Alex Mortensen to bobble the throw and score the go ahead run.
Omaha had one more chance to pull even in the top of the seventh as Messinger led off with a single through the left side. Tyler Splichal followed with a double into the right centerfield gap. Murphy tracked the ball down quickly and fired a strike to Peter, who relayed the through to the plate to cut down Messinger trying to score. Winkelman closed the door with a weak ground ball and a soft liner.
Peter came on in the ninth to record his third save of the season with a flawless frame.
Winkelman (3-0) earned the win, limiting Omaha to one run on four hits and a walk in four innings out of the pen. Omaha’s Matt Tew (0-4) suffered the loss, giving up an unearned run on four hits in three innings of relief.
Creighton and Omaha face off in the second game of the series on Saturday, March 30 as the series switches to Werner Park. Sunday’s finale will return to the Jays’ home field, TD Ameritrade Park