Creighton Rallies Past Redbirds, 10-6
May 3, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - For three innings everything seemed to go Illinois State's way, but Creighton rallied from a six-run deficit to complete a series sweep over the Redbirds, 10-6, at Duffy Bass Field Sunday afternoon. Creighton extended its season-best winning streak to seven games while handing the `Birds their season-worst, seventh-consecutive loss.
Tyler McNeely and Gabe DeMarco combined for three home runs and Ryan Copeland retired the first nine batters he faced with ease as the Redbirds(19-19, 9-10 MVC) built a 6-0 lead over Creighton (28-18, 14-3 MVC). McNeely scored the Redbirds first and only run of the first inning with a solo home run and DeMarco supplied all the scoring in the second inning with his blast to drive in Ryan Court.
McNeely hit his team-best seventh home run of the season in the third, another solo shot, to kick start a three-run inning and give the Redbirds a 6-0 lead. Meanwhile, Copeland cruised through the first nine batters of the game without allowing a hit
Creighton wouldn't be denied, however. The Bluejays got their first two hits in the fourth while plating a run and added two more in the fifth inning to make it a 6-3 ball game. Copeland worked around a two-out double in the sixth to hold the Jays scoreless, but Scott Thornburg homered to lead off the seventh and chased the `Birds starter from the game.
Redbird reliever Kyle Nelson got Nick Becker to fly out to left in the next at-bat, but hit Robbie Knight and walked Elliot Soto and Darin Ruf to load the bases, before he was pulled for reliever Jim Sajewich. Sajewich surrendered a two-RBI single to Vicente Cafaro to make it a 6-5 game and walked Jimmy Swift before giving up another two-RBI single, and the lead, to T.J. Roemmich. The Bluejays scored seven runs on four hits in the inning and led 10-6.
Creighton was forced to go to its bullpen early, and used three pitchers in the first three innings before Bob Lackovic was able to quiet the Illinois State bats. Lackovic earned the win by scattering six hits and striking out five in 5.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Illinois State threatened in the bottom of the ninth by loading the bases with one out, but Jack VanLeur entered the game for the Jays and struck out Evan Kohli and got Matt Mirabal to ground out, while earning his fifth save of the season.
McNeely finished the game 3-for-4 with the two runs batted in and scored. Court also went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and was joined with multiple hits by Anthony Ruffolo (2) and DeMarco (2).
Every batter in the Creighton lineup except for Nick Becker scored a run in Sunday's contest. Knight scored three runs for the Jays, who emerged from the weekend as the leaders in the Missouri Valley Conference standings. Roemmich finished the game 3-for-5.
Illinois State was swept for the second consecutive weekend in Valley play, also losing to Southern Illinois (April 24-25). Prior to the past two weekends, the Redbirds had won at least one contest in every MVC series. The Redbirds will get a week to regroup, as the players take their final exams, before closing the conference slate with a pivotal three-game series at I-74 rival Bradley (May 8-10).