In Round 1 of the 2015 Big East Conference Baseball Tournament, the Creighton Blue Jays rallied past the Seton Hall Pirates in the seventh inning to win 7-4 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
Coming into Thursday night’s game, it was well known throughout the conference that both these teams took pride in their pitching and fielding. As anticipated, it was a low scoring ball game early on through the first six innings, with both teams tied at two runs apiece as the contest shifted into the seventh inning.
Creighton starting pitcher Matt Warren was one of the conference’s top pitchers this season. Entering tonight’s game, he held a 2.98 ERA. While Warren was solid on the mound through six innings, allowing just one earned run, he made a critical defensive error in the fifth inning that almost cost the Blue Jays the game.
After Alex Falconi was hit by a pitch to start the fifth, freshman Ryan Ramiz turned on an inside fastball which was misfielded by Creighton’s right fielder, David Wiedeman. This set up runners at second and third with no outs for the Pirates.
The Hall was able to convert on a rare Creighton error with a sac fly coming from Chris Chiaradio, scoring Falconi. That was followed by a Derek Jenkins single up the middle to score Ramiz.
Fast-forwarding to the seventh inning, it looked as if the next team to score a run and break the 2-2 tie would likely win the game.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Hall grabbed their first lead of the game. Falconi led the inning off with a double to left center. As a result of a passed ball, Falconi moved over to third base, which set up for another Jenkins RBI single. In the very next at-bat the speedy Jenkins scored all the way from first base on a Zack Weigel double down the right field line.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Seton Hall had seized all the momentum and with freshman starting pitcher Shane McCarthy cruising.
However, after hitting the leadoff batter and issuing a four pitch walk, McCarthy was relieved by Joe DiBenedetto.
Entering the game, DiBenedetto had not allowed an earned run against Creighton in five and a third innings of work this season.
After walking the first batter he faced to load the bases, he issued a back-to-back walk to cut the Seton Hall lead down to 4-3 with still no outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning.
DiBenedetto struck out the next Blue Jay, but was unable to get Fitzgerald out, who smacked a two run RBI double to right field to give Creighton the 5-4 lead.
That would be it for DiBenedetto as Sam Burum came in to close out the inning. Burum would get the Pirates out of the inning, but not before giving up a sac fly to Crawford, which extended the Creighton lead to 6-4 heading into the eighth inning.
As Seton Hall looked to rally, a Chiaradio double was the only hit the Pirates registered in the last two innings of the game, as the Creighton bullpen secured the victory.
A triple from Nicky Lopez in the bottom of the eighth inning added an insurance run for the Blue Jays, giving them a 7-4 lead.
After being a consistent staple for the Pirates all season long, the bullpen was unable to close out the game for the Pirates as DiBenedetto collected only his second loss of the season.
With tonight’s loss, the Pirates will face the task of coming out of the losers bracket in the Big East Tournament, something no team has done in recent history.
The Pirates will be back in action Friday as they face elimination going up against a Georgetown team that they squared off against just last week, winning two out of three games against. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m. in Omaha.
Matthew Rachek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org