Minneapolis, Minn. — Senior Ryan Tapani delivered his best outing as a Bluejay in his return to home state, while junior Michael Emodi displayed his raw power with two prodigious home runs as Creighton Baseball defeated Minnesota 7-3 in the series opener between the two squads on Friday, March 9.
The win lifted the Bluejays to 7-4 on the season, while the Golden Gophers fell to 10-5.
Creighton jumped on the Gophers in the first inning, plating three runs on three hits. Leadoff hitter Clark Brinkman got things going with a soft single to left center. After Brinkman swiped second, sophomore Isaac Collins drew a seven-pitch walk. Junior Jack Strunc moved both Bluejays into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, then Emodi delivered a RBI grounder to third. Minnesota’s Micah Coffey fielded Emodi’s ball and elected to attempt to get Brinkman at the plate, but the Bluejay center fielder beat the throw. Consecutive RBI singles from sophomore Will Robertson and junior Thomas Luevano pushed the Jays’ edge to 3-0.
Emodi added to that total with a home run into the left field corner in the third. It was his fourth home run in Creighton’s last three games, but he wasn’t done.
Minnesota got the run back in the bottom of the third, yet Creighton held a 4-1 lead into the seventh.
Once more the top of the order went to work as Brinkman was hit by a pitch with one down. Collins followed with an RBI double to center, then with two outs in the inning Emodi blasted a no doubter to left center to make it 7-1. Emodi’s blast was estimated to have traveled 370 feet.
The Gophers pushed two runs across in the eighth, but Creighton turned to sophomore Mitch Boyer for the final four outs.
Playing in front of several fans, including his father Kevin Tapani (a former starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins), Tapani was stellar. The right-hander recorded career-highs in innings (7), strikeouts (10) and pitches (105) as he moved to 3-0 on the season. Tapani allowed one run on six hits and two walks in seven innings to claim the victory.
Emodi closed the contest 3-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored.
Creighton and Minnesota resume the three-game set on Saturday at 2:00 pm in U.S. Bank Stadium.