By Chelsea Stover
Creighton baseball finished a series victory over Kansas State with an 11-1 win on Sunday, leading Creighton to improve its record to 16-7 overall.
The Bluejays entered Sunday’s game following a 9-2 loss to Kansas State on Saturday that tied the series.
“You can tell really Friday and Saturday we didn’t swing the bat very well, we struck out a lot and we were swinging at pitches outside the zone,” said Creighton coach Ed Servais.
Creighton appeared to analyze and fix the mistakes it made against Kansas State in the first two games and begin “playing like they know how.”
Junior outfielder Parker Upton and junior infielder Jake Holton each had three hits on the day, and Upton also scored four times while finishing the game a triple shy of the cycle. Will Robertson drove home a season-high four runs. Creighton added a season high of 17 hits against Kansas State, while the Wildcats’ offense managed only four hits on the afternoon.
“I think everybody was really locked in today as you can tell, the bats were really hot today and that just felt really good to get back out there and play like we know how, play like we are used too,” said Upton.
“We got off to a really fast start and I think that helped everyone out and once we got that early lead we just wanted to keep adding onto it.”
After Creighton pitcher Evan Johnson retired Kansas State in order, the Bluejays got the bats going early, scoring four runs on six hits and never looked back.
“We wanted to play with a little more focus, a little more energy,” Servais said, “a little more sense of urgency and we did that the first inning we scored four runs in six hits. But it all starts with your pitching, if your pitching can throw zeroes up there, your batters feel a little more comfortable and defense plays a little bit better.”
Creighton’s lead grew to 6-0 in the second inning when Robertson scored his fourth homer of the season with a blast over the right field fence, which also brought Upton home.
Creighton didn’t stop there, adding two more scores in the fourth and fifth innings. Upton hit a solo home run in the fourth, and then added an RBI double in the fifth when Kansas State lost sight of an infield pop-up.
In the bottom of the eighth, Creighton tacked on an insurance run when Jackson Berney collected his first career hit with a single to left scoring Holton.
Kansas State’s only run came in the seventh inning when Thomas Hughes singled and scored on an RBI double to right-center, hit by Omaha native Dylan Philips.
While Creighton’s offense was firing on all cylinders, Johnson threw his best pitching performance so far this season.
Johnson recorded a career-high eight strikeouts in five shutout innings, winning his fourth straight start.
“I thought it was his best pitching performance,” Servais said. “Still a few too many ball and still a few too many walks but all in all, five innings of shutout baseball, we’ll take that every Sunday. He is getting better and getting more comfortable out there.”
On Tuesday night, baseball defeated Nebraska 10-2 in Lincoln, avenging a 3-6 loss in Omaha two weeks prior.
Upton and Robertson each scored three runs, while Holton and senior infielder Jack Strunc batted three and four RBIs respectively.
Senior pitcher Denson Hall was credited with the win, throwing five strikeouts in two innings.
The win moves the Jays to a 17-7 record, and the Bluejays have won eight of their last 10 games, putting them in good position as Big East play approaches. They also have a chance to take a series lead over Nebraska, meeting them in their third and final matchup of the season in two weeks.
On Friday, the Jays will travel to Indianapolis for their first Big East series of the season against Butler.