OMAHA, Neb. — Senior Ryan Tapani improved to 5-0 with 7.2 innings of one-run ball as Creighton Baseball won its fourth straight game, a 2-1 victory over visiting Evansville on Friday, March 30th at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
The Bluejays improved to 14-6 with the win, while Evansville dropped to 6-13. It was the first meeting between the schools since 2013, when the two clubs were Missouri Valley Conference rivals.
Tapani faced the minimum through three innings before surrendering a run in the fourth. The senior right-hander plunked Troy Beilsmith to start the inning, Beilsmith was bunted over the second for the first out. With two away, Kenton Crews added to his team-leading RBI total with UE’s first hit of the game, which plated Beilsmith without a throw home.
Creighton stranded two men in the third inning and another in the fourth frame against Evansville starter Adam Lukas, with the Bluejays being caught looking to end both frames with runners in scoring position. The Jays then put two on with one away in the fifth inning, but Isaac Collins‘ laser to right-center was caught on the run by Crews, who spun and rifled a throw to the cutoff man that caught Clark Brinkman off first base before he was able to return safely to the bag.
The Bluejays tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Will Robertson walked with one out and stole second base. He would score when Ryan Mantle‘s single to left hit off the glove of a diving Beilsmith before dropping to extend the inning.
Creighton took its first lead of the night in the bottom of the seventh inning, aided by a pair of Evansville errors. Parker Upton doubled with one out and advanced to third base when reliever Ryan Brady threw a pickoff throw into center field. The error proved costly when Isaac Collins‘ routine grounder to second was also booted, allowing Upton to stride home with the winning run.
Tapani threw a career-long 7.2 innings of work, allowing two hits, one run, one walk and striking out five while improving to 5-0. He lowered his ERA to a team-best 1.43 with his seventh straight start allowing exactly one earned run. Mitchell Boyer came on to finish off the eighth, needing just one pitch to retire Beilsmith.
The Bluejays had a chance to extend the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Thomas Luevano was cut down at home on a throw off one-hop from Beilsmith.
Jonah Smith earned his third save in the last eight days, closing out the Purple Aces with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Lukas’ second start of the year for Evansville was another gem. He threw six innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and four walks while striking out seven in a season-high 110 pitches, but did not factor into the decision. Jimmy Ward (1-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing the double to Upton.
The Bluejays and Purple Aces are scheduled to resume their series on Saturday at 2 p.m. Central.