It was knotted, 1-1, going into the bottom of the ninth as Shocker catcher Tyler Weber lined a solid single to center field. Pinch runner Cody Lassley was frozen at first on a failed sacrifice bunt but moved up when Andy Dirks was hit by a pitch. Derek Schermerhorn hit to left-center field, loading the bases, but Damon Sublett popped out to second base to give Creighton two outs. Matt Brown took the count to full before drawing the RBI walk.
Both teams had chances early, but it took until the seventh inning before either team managed to score.
The Shockers had the bases loaded in the bottom of the second with one out, but a strikeout and fielder’s choice ended the threat.
Two free passes issued to the Bluejays in the third almost proved costly as both runners advanced to scoring position. Starting pitcher Aaron Shafer bared down and retired 11 consecutive Creighton batters over the next 3.2 innings.
The sophomore allowed one earned run over eight innings, giving up only two hits and striking out nine. Senior closer Noah Booth (3-1) got the win, giving up one hit and striking out one in one inning.
Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte came in and sat down the first four batters he faced, three of them with strikeouts. The junior reliever then became wild, hitting two batters and walking a third to load the bases with Shockers.
Creighton starter Zak Moore threw 4.1 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and striking out three. Venditte (3-2) was tagged with the loss, allowing two earned runs on two hits in four innings. Masten faced two batters in the ninth.
Creighton broke the zeroes on the scoreboard first, as Andrew Small, who reached on a fielder’s choice, was brought home with a hit through the hole between third and short. Andy Masten had the RBI single that gave the Bluejays a 1-0 lead.
The Shockers came right back to even the score in the bottom half of the frame. Dusty Coleman drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a passed ball. Andy Dirks popped one just inside the left field line, good enough for a double, but shallow enough to hold Coleman at third. A ground ball to second base by Derek Schermerhorn allowed Coleman to score before the next two WSU hitters went down on strikes.
Weber led the Shockers offensively, going 2-for-3 with a walk. Dirks also finished with two hits and Schermerhorn and Brown contributed RBI. Creighton’s hits came from Chris Gradoville, Darin Ruf and Masten.
The series-deciding game takes place tomorrow, Sunday at 1 p.m. at Eck Stadium.