• Photo Showcase: Creighton vs. Wichita State, May 17
• Box Score: Creighton 7, Wichita State 3
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A Creighton team that has been prone to melting down when pressured this season stepped up big time Thursday night.
After Wichita State tied the game with two runs in its half of the eighth, the Bluejays came back with five runs in the bottom of the inning in rallying for a 7-3 Missouri Valley Conference victory in front of 4,240 at TD Ameritrade Park.
“There are always going to be moments when stuff like that happens,” said Creighton catcher Anthony Bemboom, referring to letting a 2-0 lead slip away in the top of the eighth. “Good teams step up and pick each other up when bad things happen.”
Bemboom had the biggest hit of the inning, rifling a triple into right-center field on a hit-and-run play to score Nick Judkins, who had drawn a one-out walk against losing pitcher Foster Vielock.
“I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball,” Benboom said. “In that situation, I was just trying to simplify things. See the ball and hit it.”
Creighton coach Ed Servais' call for a hit-and-run simplified things even more.
“He knows he has to swing in that situation,” Servais said. “That's something we have to do a little more often to free guys up a little bit. It takes the decision out of the equation. Hey, you're swinging.”
Alex Staehely followed Bemboom's hit with an RBI single, and the Bluejays tacked on three more runs with two outs on a run-scoring single by Brennan Murphy and a two-run single by Chance Ross.
“That just showed what this team is made of at this point in the year,” said Ross, who also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. “We're not going to back down. At this point, some people could quit, but that showed we still have some fight left.”
The victory, which stopped a five-game Wichita State winning streak, improved Creighton to 22-26 and 6-12 in the league. The Shockers dropped to 33-23 and 10-9.
Creighton starter Ty Blach turned in his second straight strong outing, blanking Wichita State for the first seven innings on three hits. He had come within one out of throwing a shutout in his previous start against Dallas Baptist.
Two of the hits the left-hander allowed Thursday came with two outs in the first inning. After giving up a one-out single in the second, Blach retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced, including the last 16 in a row.
“If they hadn't taken him out,” Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson said, “we never would have scored.”
Blach limited the first three hitters in the Shockers' lineup — Erik Harbutz, Dayne Parker and Don Lambert — to one hit in nine at-bats.
“That was the key,” Blach said. “We didn't want the middle of their lineup coming up with guys in scoring position all night. It was important to keep those guys off base.”
Wichita State finally broke through in the eighth off Creighton relievers Chase Webb and Kurt Spomer. Parker's two-out RBI single off Webb cut the lead to 2-1. Webb walked Lambert to put men on first and second, and Johnny Coy followed with a single to right off Spomer to tie the game.
Spomer came back to retire Omahan Casey Gillaspie on a forceout to end the inning.
“The big thing was to get Gillaspie out to keep the game at 2-2,” Servais said. “If they get to 3-2, it's a whole different atmosphere in both dugouts. Our guys came in thinking, ‘We're the home team, it's tied, we have two at-bats and Wichita only has one.' Advantage Creighton.
“We had some very good at-bats in that eighth inning. Even our outs were hard hit.”
The rally produced Creighton's fifth last at-bat victory. All have come in Valley play, and four have come in the last three league series.
“When we play games like this, it just gives us so much more confidence,” Blach said. “I was really proud of the way the guys battled back tonight.”
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