Senior outfielder Brett Murray’s RBI-single to right field helped Creighton walk-off with a victory and defeat Nebraska for the first time in its past eight tries.
The Bluejays defeated the Huskers 4-3 Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in front of an announced crowd of 6,880.
Senior first baseman Reagan Fowler led off the bottom of the ninth with a double down the left-field line to start the late-inning rally.
“I saw [the pitcher] in the eighth inning going low and away and I wasn’t going to let that pitch get by me,” Fowler said. “I was just going to put a good swing on it and it worked out.”
Creighton elected to not bunt the runner to third and tried to win the game without sacrificing an out. Senior third baseman Harrison Crawford successfully advanced Fowler to third on a groundout to Nebraska’s second baseman.
With a drawn in infield, Murray drove a 2-0 delivery into right field and Fowler jogged home from third base to score the winning run.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit out into the outfield,” Murray said. “He came in with a fastball -- I was honestly looking off-speed there -- but I was just able to get my hands to it.”
The entire Creighton dugout greeted Murray in shallow right field to celebrate the walk-off win.
The Bluejays last win against the Huskers was on April 26, 2013.
“They heard a lot a noise the last couple of days about seven straight and can you beat this team and do you put too much pressure on yourself,” coach Ed Servais said, “and I think they got tired of it; I certainly did.”
Nebraska junior Derek Burkamper did his best to keep Nebraska’s streak alive as he retired the first nine Creighton hitters.
The Huskers also opened the scoring with two consecutive hits in the top of the second.
Jake Meyers delivered a one-out double to left field before Luis Alvarado singled up the middle to drive in the first run of the game.
“A lot of folks might have said ‘well here they go again’ and our guys hung in there, responded,” Servais said.
Junior centerfielder Daniel Woodrow led off the fourth with a triple to the right-center field gap and gave the Bluejays some life, offensively.
Senior second baseman Ryan Fitzgerald lifted a 1-1 offering to right field, deep enough for Woodrow to score easily from third. Burkamper recorded a fly out and strikeout to end the fourth with the score tied at 1.
Burkamper threw five innings and allowed only two hits and one run while striking out five and walking zero.
“That’s the best he’s thrown all year,” Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad said. “He threw his fastball with conviction. Breaking ball’s been pretty consistent, but he had his changeup today – he hasn’t had that all year; that was great to see.”
Creighton had a similar performance from its starter. Junior college transfer Austin Stroschein allowed the early run in the second, but kept the Huskers in check in the third and fourth innings before ending his night with a pair of walks in the fifth.
Stroschein pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed two hits and two runs.
“I can’t state it enough how important it was,” Servais said. “We were hoping at best case scenario he would give us nine or 10 outs and he gave us 14. I knew we were in good shape then.”
Steven Reveles gave Nebraska a 2-1 lead with an RBI-single through the middle of Creighton’s defense, but senior reliever Connor Miller limited the damage with a strikeout of preseason All-American Ryan Boldt to end the fifth.
“We knew if we got into the middle part of the game with it being close or us being ahead we trust our bullpen to throw up zeros up there and for the most part they did,” Servais said.
The Bluejays did not score in the fifth and held the Huskers to no runs in the top of the sixth.
Creighton strung together four singles from the top four hitters in the batting order to take its first lead of the game.
Woodrow singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Fitzgerald laced a hit to left field to put runners on the corners for junior shortstop Nicky Lopez.
Lopez continued the hitting with an infield-single on a 2-1 pitch to drive in Woodrow, and Fowler converted with the final hit to centerfield to put the Jays on top 3-2.
Much like in the second inning, Meyers and Alvarado helped Nebraska score a run and tied the game at three during the top of the seventh. Meyers tripled before Alvarado hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
Senior John Oltman and closer David Gerber combined to strike out three batters in the final two innings and hold Nebraska out of the run column, setting up the nine-inning drama for the Bluejays.
“We try to approach it like any other game but ever since I’ve been here I haven’t beaten Nebraska and a lot of other guys are in the same boat,” Murray said. “I know that we wanted to get this one today and we were able to play a great game.”
Creighton continues a stretch of five games in six days as it hosts South Dakota State on Wednesday night.
“We know what we need to do to have a chance to be successful and we were able to execute and our pitchers didn’t give up any big innings,” Fowler said. “It’s good to get this win and now we have to finish the week – big game tomorrow.”
Coach Servais seemed pleased with the way Tuesday’s game played out compared to other Tuesday or Wednesday night games the Bluejays have played in.
“Usually midweek games get a little crazy, you see a lot more walks, you see a lot more wild pitches, passed balls scenarios, and it was a clean game,” Servais said. “We gave up two free bases and our goal is always five or under; when we get them five or under we’re usually successful. Now Nebraska gave up three so that tells you how good of game it was on both sides. “
The Bluejays resume Big East Conference play as they host Butler this weekend. The first game of the series is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. Creighton will honor the 1991 College World Series team during Saturday’s contest at 1 p.m.