June 3, 2012

CBI Live: #1 UCLA 13, #4 Creighton 5

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Bluejays Fly By Lobos

By Abbey Mastracco



LOS ANGELES – Creighton’s unexpected run through the postseason continued Sunday afternoon, as the No. 4 seed in the Los Angeles Regional held one of the country’s hottest hitting teams to just two runs.


The Bluejays topped third-seeded New Mexico 7-2 to advance to their first Regional Final since 2005. Creighton was to meet No. 1 seed UCLA later in the evening.


The hot bats of the Lobos, who owned the third-best batting average (.332) coming into the postseason were notably cool, as they scored just seven runs in three games. New Mexico manufactured a pair of runs against Creighton (28-29, 2-1 Regional), putting up one in the fourth and another in the fifth.


“They had some really good hitters, but I was fortunate enough that they hit the ball right at my fielders,” Creighton pitcher Erik Mattingly said. “They hit the ball really hard four or five times right at somebody.”


New Mexico (37-24, 1-2 Regional) left fielder Ben Woodchick, who led Lobos with a 1-for-2 performance at the plate with an RBI and a run, echoed the sentiment of Mattingly (3-4).


“We hit a lot of balls hard, but a lot of balls right at people,” Woodchick said. “I think we were trying to do too much. We were hot coming in, but guys were just trying to do too much in each at-bat.”


New Mexico was forced to play from behind throughout nearly the entire game, after Anthony Bemboom blasted a towering three-run shot to right field, the Jackie Robinson Stadium power alley, in the bottom of the first.


“That was huge,” Mattingly said. “I had kind of a shaky first inning. Then Anthony hit that three-run homer, and it just relaxes you as a pitcher. It makes it easier for you to go out there and throw strikes.”


The Bluejay hitters made sure they picked up their starting pitcher for every mistake he made and then some. After giving up a run in the top of the fourth, the Jays then put up two in the bottom of the frame. The Lobos managed one unearned run in the fifth, and a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth gave the Blue Jays a 7-2 lead that would stand up the rest of the game.


“We kind of coasted in the second half of the game,” Creighton head coach Ed Servais said. “But we got off to a good start, and that’s what you need to do in these kinds of games. Erik gave us a chance to be competitive tonight by pitching six solid innings.”


Mattingly gave up just one earned run on three hits and struck out two. Reese McGraw threw three hitless innings to close out the Lobos.


“They pitched extremely well,” New Mexico head coach Ray Birmingham said. “They made pitches when they needed to make them. I tip my hat to Creighton.”


For Birmingham, it was an emotional end to a season in which his Lobos squad accomplished so much. Five seniors who have led the team to three regional appearances and back-to-back Mountain West Championships will depart a program they helped build.


“It will [set in],” said Ben Woodchick, a senior. “We’ve accomplished a lot over the last four years, especially the last three. It means a lot to move this program forward, hopefully guys like [Ryan Padilla] to my left will keep it moving forward because it’s on the right track.”