Mason, Ohio — Powered by a single-game record six home runs, including two from sophomore catcher David Vilches, the Creighton Baseball team delivered a 17-13 win over St. John’s in the winner’s bracket contest at the BIG EAST Championships on Friday, May 24.
The win pushed Creighton’s season record to 37-11, while St. John’s fell to 31-22. The win moves the Bluejays in the BIG EAST’s Championship game, which was moved up to a 5:00 pm (CT) start on Saturday, May 25. Creighton will face the winner of an elimination game between St. John’s and Xavier scheduled to begin at 12:00 pm (CT) on Saturday.
The game featured a slew of single-game BIG EAST Championship records, in addition to Creighton’s six home runs. The team’s 30 combined runs broke the old record of 28 set by West Virginia (20) and Pittsburgh (8) in 2009. Creighton’s six home runs topped the previous mark of five set by Notre Dame (2005) and Connecticut (1990). The Bluejays also recorded 39 total bases, six more than the old record of 33 set by Rutgers in 2010. The teams’ combined 66 total bases also eclipsed the previous record of 58 set between Rutgers and Connecticut in that aforementioned 2010 contest.
Individually Vilches tied one single-game mark with two home runs and set another with seven RBI, while St. John’s Mike Antico tied a mark with five hits.
To say the scoring came in bunches would be an understatement as St. John’s plated three runs in the top of the first, only to watch Creighton answer with four in its half. The Bluejays added five runs in second to take a 9-3 edge. St. John’s responded with four runs in the third, one in the fourth and three in the fifth to surge ahead 11-9. The Red Storm’s lead was short lived as Creighton answered with seven runs in the fifth to reclaim the lead at 16-11. The final tallies of the game came from two Red Storm runs in the seventh and a solo home run by junior Parker Upton in the eighth to give Creighton sole possession of the home run record.
St. John’s trio of runs crossed on a three-run home run from Wyatt Mascarella in the top of the first. Creighton responded quickly in the second on a one-out walk to Upton, then a two-run blast by junior Jake Holton. The hit parade continued with singles by junior Will Robertson and senior Jack Strunc and a walk to senior Jordan Hovey to load the bags. Creighton pushed across the tying and lead run with an RBI walk to Vilches, then Strunc crossed the plate as freshman Jared Wegner was hit by a pitch.
The Creighton offense went back to work in the second as junior Isaac Collins launched a solo home run to center. Upton worked his second walk, then Holton put runners on the corners with a single to right-center. Robertson made it 6-3 with a sac fly to center. After Strunc’s second single of the game, Vilches blasted his first home run of the night over the left-center field wall.
St. John’s closed the gap to 9-7 with four runs in the third on a single, a walk, an RBI single from Ryan Markey, an RBI double from Ryan Hogan, a sac fly by Mitchell Henshaw and an RBI single by Brandon Bossard.
The Red Storm inched closer with a solo home run in the fourth by Mike Antico, then pulled ahead in the fifth on a three-run home run by Carson Bartels.
Creighton’s answer was sudden and decisive, scoring seven runs on eight hits. The inning began with three consecutive singles from Collins, Upton and Holton, but Collins was cut down trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. With runners at the corners Robertson hit a no doubt home run to center field to put Creighton back on top, 12-11. Back-to-back singles by Strunc and Hovey greeted St. John’s reliever Joe Kelly, then Vilches struck again for his second straight three-run blast to push the Bluejays up 15-11. Before the inning closed the Bluejays plated their 16th run on a triple to right from Collins the plated Wegner.
St. John’s got two runs in the seventh on an sac fly from Peter Abinanti and an RBI groundout from Bartels. With the tying run at the dish in the form of Ryan Markey, Creighton head coach Ed Servais turned to his closer Bobby Kametas for the final seven outs. Kametas escaped the jam with a long fly out, tracked down by Upton.
Junior Jonah Smith picked up the win (4-0) in relief for Creighton allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. Kametas earned his ninth save of the season with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. St. John’s reliever Ian Murphy was saddled with the loss (1-3), giving up four runs on seventh hits and a walk in three innings of work.
Offensively the Bluejays four hits from Strunc (4-for-5) and Collins (4-for-6), while Vilches finished 2-for-5 with seven RBI. Robertson and Holton also each had impressive showings at the plate with a 2-for-4, four RBI day from Robertson and a 3-for-6, three runs scored and a pair of RBI from Holton.