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Creighton wins 2011 MVC Championship with 3-1 win over Wichita State

OMAHA, Neb. – For just the second time in school history the Creighton baseball team ends the Missouri Valley Tournament as champions, defeating Wichita State 3-1 on Saturday night. Creighton’s pitching staff allowed just four hits on the day, surrendering the only run in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Jays win the first MVC Tournament title since 2007, earning the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Creighton (44-14) battled through the losers’ bracket to make it to the championship, defeating Missouri State twice to earn the right to play for the title. The Jays will learn their fate for the field of 64 on Monday at 11:30 with a selection show put on by the NCAA.

Creighton won the title for the second time in school history, with both wins now coming over the Shockers. The Jays are 2-6-1 against WSU all-time in tournament title games, winning 10-9 in 2007 and 3-1 on Saturday. Both of Creighton’s wins have been in games played outside of Wichita.

The Bluejays got on the board first on Saturday, scoring two runs in the opening frame for the second night in a row. Nick Judkins was the first Bluejay to reach base on the night, picked up a one out hit by pitch from Shocker starter Charlie Lowell. A single to right field by Jimmy Swift advanced Judkins to second, while a single through the 5-6 hole on the left side by Trever Adams plated Creighton’s first run of the game. Alex Staehely lined out to right field before Scott Thornburg put a ball into left field, plating Swift and giving the Jays the early 2-0 lead.

Jonas Dufek, named the MVC Tournament MVP, started the game for the Bluejays on just two days rest, the quickest turn-around this season. The Omaha native opened the game by striking out Wichita State’s first two batters before allowing back-to-back singles to Chris O’Brien and Preston Springer. Dufek forced a fly-out to Adams in right field to close the first frame and was even more effective in the second inning, retiring the side in order.

Dufek continued into the third inning, mowing down five batters on strike outs during his 2.2 innings of work. The senior allowed just two hits in his work on the mound before being relieved by Ty Blach, after reaching a pre-determined pitch count. The Jays opted to bring in Blach to face Wichita State’s best hitter, left-handed Chris O’Brien, the MVC Player of the Year. Creighton’s south paw struck out O’Brien, leaving the Jays ahead 2-0 through three.

Lowell and the Shocker defense settled down after the first, retiring eight of the next 10 batters in order, including four straight strike outs. The MVC Pitcher of the Year allowed just two men to reach base through the second, third and fourth innings, a walk to Adams and an error on an Anthony Bemboom hit to WSU shortstop Tyler Grimes.

Creighton put up a single tally in the fifth inning, adding insurance runs against the very talented Shocker team. Mike Gerber reached with an infield single, beating out the throw from WSU shortstop Grimes. A sacrifice bunt by Ross advanced Gerber to second and a single to right field put the runners on the corners. Swift then drove in his first run of the day with a sacrifice fly to center field, deep enough to score Gerber from third.

The Bluejay bullpen was stellar on the day, allowing just four hits to the Shockers and not surrendering a run until the bottom of the eighth inning. Blach came out of the bullpen for the first time this season, finishing his day with 3.2 innings of work and striking out five. He allowed just one batter to reach second base on the day, retiring the first seven batters he faced. Reese McGraw took over for Blach in the seventh inning, throwin a full inning of work while allowing a single run and striking out one.

Lowell was pulled after the sixth inning, surrendering six hits, three earned runs and striking out six Jays. The WSU bullpen retired the Jays in order the last two innings, but Creighton wouldn’t need the extra runs in the end.

Kurt Spomer came in to earn his 13th save of the season, striking out the first two batters of the ninth before a ground ball to Swift at third ended the game, sending the Bluejays into a dog-pile just behind the pitcher’s mound.

The Jays ended the day with six hits, scoring three runs. No single Bluejay had more than a single hit, with Judkins, Swift, Adams, Thornburg, Bemboom and Gerber each getting a hit in the game. Dufek picked up his 11th win of the season, improving to 11-1 while Spomer picked up his 13th save, now second in Bluejay history.

The Jays will learn their match-up and first-round destination on Monday, May 30th, at 11:30 am CST.

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