Freshman Andrew Meggs drove home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and the bullpen threw six hitless innings as the Creighton Baseball team moved into sole possession of first place in the BIG EAST Conference with a 4-1 win over Villanova on Friday, May 17.
Winners of four straight and nine of the last 10, Creighton improved to 34-11 on the season. The Bluejays are 13-4 in BIG EAST play and will win their third BIG EAST regular-season title in six years with a victory in Saturday's 12:00 pm finale to close the regular-season. Villanova fell to 13-37 with the defeat, and is 4-12 in league play.
Villanova scored the game's initial run by taking advantage of three straight walks issued by starter Denson Hull to open the second inning. The Wildcats then took their first lead of the series on a sac fly by Timothy Lilly that scored Doug deMarrais, before Hull wiggled out of trouble to escape further damage.
Creighton wasted no time answering, tying the game just three pitches into the bottom of the second. Will Robertson laced Gordon Graceffo's first offering to right-center for a single, and two pitches later Jack Strunc ripped an RBI double to the gap in left-center to knot the score. The run by Robertson was Creighton's 1,000th all-time at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, which opened in 2011.
After four walks and three wild pitches through 3+ innings, Hull was lifted in favor of junior Ben Dotzler. The righty escaped a jam with runners on the corners and no outs to keep the score tied, then went on to retire the first nine men he faced, and 10-of-11 overall, to push the game into the late innings deadlocked at 1-1.
Dotzler gave way to junior John Sakowski with one out in the seventh inning and a man on first base. Sakowski's first pitch to Sam Margulis was a looping liner that Isaac Collins hauled in with his back to the infield. The Wildcats had sent Tyler Brunon on a hit and run, setting up an easy inning-ending double play.
Senior Jordan Hovey set the stage in the seventh by working a seven-pitch walk with one down. Hovey was put in motion while sophomore David Vilches was at the dish. The decision kept Creighton out of a double-play, bringing Meggs to the plate with two down. The Washington native delivered his third RBI of the season at the opportune time as his single to right plated Hovey from second to give Creighton a 2-1 lead against a tiring Graceffo.
After Sakowski (5-0) threw a perfect eighth, Bobby Kametas finished off the victory to record his eighth save of the season, but not before the Jays added two insurance runs in the eighth inning when Robertson's single down the first base line scored Collins, and Strunc's squeeze bunt one pitch later plated Jake Holton.