Creighton, which posted its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1992, advanced to Saturday's winner's bracket game to face the hosts from Nebraska at 7:05 p.m. The Bluejays defeated NU 2-1 in this year's three-game season series, but the Huskers won the lone game at Hawks Field. Creighton improved to 47-15 on the year with the win over the Wolfpack.
NC State fell to 40-18 overall and will play in
tomorrow's elimination game against the UIC Flames at 1:05 p.m.
Left fielder Chris Gradoville and catcher Tony Daniel powered the Bluejay offense to put Wordekemper in position for the win, his sixth of the season against no losses. Gradoville went 2 for 2 at the plate with a career-high three runs scored and one RBI, while Daniel was 2 for 4 with four RBIs and one run scored.
Gradoville opened the scoring with a blast over the fence in right field in the second inning, his sixth home run of the season and second in as many bats dating to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. He came back to score again in the fourth frame to give the Bluejays a two-run cushion.
After getting hit by a pitch to open the fourth, Gradoville moved over to second on Daniel's sacrifice and scored on Chase Odenreider's single to center. Gradoville rounded third and came barreling home where center fielder Matt Camp's throw was just off target and got away from catcher Jake Muyco as Gradoville slide into the plate.
Still with only one out, the Bluejays continued applying pressure as Gabe Lapito lined one back up the middle to put runners on the corners. Lapito's drive knocked out starter Gib Hobson, who went just 3.1 innings and allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts. In Hobson's previous appearance he allowed seven runs on six hits in 1.1 innings against Virginia in the ACC Tournament.
Jason Duncan came on in relief and got out of the jam, as third baseman Matt Devine got the ball home in time for Muyco to apply the tag on Odenreider after Daniel's attempted sacrifice. Duncan then got Colin Shokey on a fly out to end the threat.
In the fifth, Creighton touched up Duncan for
four runs, which represented more runs than he had allowed in his previous 15
Dan Norquist drove in the first run when he doubled to the fence in center field, bringing home Brad Dutton, who had singled to open the frame. Gradoville walked to put two on before both moved up on a wild pitch over Muyco's head. Daniel followed with a two-RBI double to the gap in left center to score both and then came home on a throwing error following Odenreider's ground out to third base for a 6-0 Creighton lead.
Wordekemper, who carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, kept the NC State bats at bay. He was especially tough on the Wolfpack's top four hitters in the lineup, holding them to a combined 0 for 11 through the first six innings.
The bottom of the order tried to keep the Wolfpack within striking distance, rallying four four consecutive hits to lead off the fifth inning. Brian Aargon led off the frame with a double to the fence in right to end the no-hit bid. Matt Devine lined one through the hole into right field to score Aragon and make it 6-1 in favor of the Bluejays. With one out, Matt Camp hit one to second base but the Bluejays could not turn the double play, allowing Lee Mezistrano to score from third to cut the deficit to 6-2. Wordekemper then got Ramon Carona to pop out behind the plate to end the frame.
Creighton expanded its lead to 8-2 in the top of the seventh capped by Daniel's first triple of the season to score both Zach Daeges and Jim Hinrichs, who entered the game as a pinch runner after Gradoville's one-out singe.
NC State added the game's final run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Devine reached on a hit-by-pitch and moved over on Diaz's single before Camp drove in his second run with a liner to center.
Creighton then went to reliever Scott Reese, who went 2.0 innings allowing just two hits while posting three strikeouts. Reese and Wordekemper held the Wolfpack to just eight hits, its fourth straight game with eight or fewer hits after recording 36 games with double-figure hits this season. Reese picked up his sixth save of the year.
**-- It was Creighton's first game played in June since June 6, 1991 when the Jays faced Wichita State in the College World Series.
**-- Chris Gradoville's homer in the second inning was his second in as many at-bats, as he also went yard in his final at-bat at the MVC Tournament. He is the first Jays player to homer in consecutive at-bats since Zach Daeges at Northern Colorado on Feb. 18.
**-- Tony Daniel's fourth-inning sacrifice bunt was Creighton's 70th of the season. Entering 2005, only 15 CU teams had ever had 70 or more sacrifices in a year.
Gradoville's three runs scored were a career-high.
**-- The four runs allowed in the fifth inning by NC State's Jason Duncan were more than he allowed in his previous 15 appearances combined.
Wordekemper kept NC State hitless until Brian Aragon led off the bottom of the
fifth with a double to right.
**-- NC State's run in the bottom of the fifth snapped a streak of 13 straight scoreless innings for CU's Eric Wordekemper.
Daniel's fifth-inning double extended his hitting streak to a career-best eight
**-- Eric Wordekemper's seven innings of work tied his season-high, also done last week at the MVC Tournament vs. Evansville.
NC State notes
**-- With single in final at bat, the tournament's leading hitter, NC State's Aaron Bates, extended his hitting streak to six games. Bates has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 contests.
**-- With the loss to Creighton, NC State slipped to 1-4 on the season at neutral fields heading into tomorrow's game with the UIC Flames.
**-- NC State's loss represented its first to a Missouri Valley Conference team this season. It was the first meeting for the Wolfpack with an MVC team.
Creighton Head Coach Ed Servais
"I was impressed with how our guys handled the situation tonight and the poise they played with. I was impressed with how much poise and confidence they played with and how hard our kids played. We executed like we have for the most part all season long, and we got a great start out of Eric Wordekemper again to give us a chance. It was a good win, and in about half an hour, we'll be looking forward to tomorrow."
On tomorrow's matchup with Nebraska and Johnny Dorn:
"The more your hitters see a pitcher, the more they're going to get better swings off him. Johnny had some great stuff the last time we saw him. We were a little surprised at how well he threw his slider that night. He's not going to catch us off guard this time; we'll be better prepared. Having won against Nebraska two out of three times, I don't think that gives us any kind of an edge. They're a great, quality team, and we believe we are too. It will be a fun atmosphere, and a great college game. This is the game everybody wanted to see, and now they've got it."
Pitcher Eric Wordekemper
On his performance tonight:
"Coming off of last week, I was throwing well, so I was trying to take the same mindset and have it carry over in to this week. I was trying to go through the same routines and just be as comfortable as possible. I'm just glad to be back and be able to help the team as much as possible. The guys behind me played well again, and (catcher) Tony (Daniel) called a great game."
"I was able to locate very well, working both sides of the plate. My changeup was working tonight, and I got some ground balls which helped to keep the pitch count down."
On tonight's win being the "game of his
"It ranks up there. We haven't been to a regional in a while. It's a big win for us, and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Catcher Tony Daniel
On the approach to the game tonight:
"We came out playing loose, and we played our game. We all decided to go out and have fun, and it really showed that we weren't uptight. That's how we're going to play all weekend. We're here to show who we are and get some respect out of people."
On facing Nebraska and starting pitcher Johnny Dorn
"I think facing Dorn tomorrow is a good matchup. We have a good idea of how he pitches. It's going to be a great atmosphere, and we're just going to play as hard as we can and get on top of them."
N.C. State Head Coach Elliott Avent
"You have to tip your hat to Creighton, they played extremely well tonight. It's a very good coached ball club. They were really ready to play tonight. I just felt they played outstanding. (Eric) Wordekemper pitched very, very well and hit his spots. He threw to both sides of the plate well, so he got them off to a good start."
On Creighton starter Eric Wordekemper's
"He threw to both sides of the plate with a good fastball. I thought he really hit his spots on both sides of the plate. He'd get ahead (in the count), then he'd move a little further off the plate. He really located his pitches well."
"We actually didn't expect that good of a fastball from (Wordekemper). He already had a pretty good changeup. He hit his spots outstanding. He was really locked in tonight. He threw a heck of a game."
On Creighton's hitting:
"They looked like they took good swings. I'll be honest with you, we felt we made some pretty good pitches and they made really good swings. We left a couple of balls up (in the strike zone) that they hit pretty well, but that's a big ballpark several places where they hit the ball. They hit that ball over (N.C. State center fielder Matt) Camp's head, and Camp runs the ball down probably as good as anybody in the country. I thought (the Bluejays) were very disciplined at the plate tonight, and they did a great job."
On N.C. State starting pitcher Gib Hobson's
"The first inning he threw outstanding. He really had good stuff. I thought he got the pitch up on the home run (by left fielder Chris Gradoville). I thought he got that ball up a little bit, but he made some good pitches. They were just very disciplined tonight and locked in. I'll give them a lot of credit."