UConn baseball struggled early on in Friday’s series opener against Creighton at Charles Schwab Field and its comeback bid fell just short, as the Bluejays took a 7-6 victory. The Huskies’ loss, combined with a Xavier win over Georgetown, pushed them out of first place in the Big East standings.
Despite having a relatively light-hitting lineup, slashing .257/.361/.396, Creighton took advantage of continued mental lapses to score three runs in the first inning.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Andrew Sears and his plus pick-off move got Tyler Lozano to slip off first base. By the time Ben Huber got the ball at first, he had started his way toward second. Wary of Andrew Meggs at third base, Huber threw home. Sears followed his throw but now that the rundown was between third and home, nobody was behind the plate when Ryan Hyde chased Meggs back toward third. After he committed to return to third and Hyde made the throw, he had nobody in front of him and scored easily, while Lorenzo made it to third.
Sears then got behind Sterling Hayes and the first baseman took a 3-1 pitch over the fence in left field to make it 3-0.
In the second inning, Korey Morton reached with a single, and then, with Bryan Padilla at the plate on a 1-0 count, the Huskies elected to hit and run. The shortstop hit a blooper to center, but Nolan Sailors made a great diving play charging in on the ball. Morton had already rounded second by a couple of steps and was easily doubled off to end the inning.
Sears set down the Bluejays in order in the second and third, retiring seven hitters in a row, but UConn didn’t cut into the deficit.
The fourth inning looked a lot like the first for Creighton and resulted in two runs, chasing Sears from the game mid-count with the score 5-0. Penders replaced him in favor of Garrett Coe, who was able to strand the bases loaded. Sears finished with five runs on six hits in 3 2⁄3 innings, with two walks and three strikeouts.
The UConn offense finally woke up with two down in the sixth, as a Jake Studley infield single was sandwiched between Huber and Luke Broadhurst big flies to make it 6-3.
The Huskies got the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, but Huber’s bid for a second home run died on the warning track in right field. Earlier, Paul Tammaro brought home one run with a double into the left-center gap and David Smith sent a pair across the plate with a single underneath a diving Ben North at third base.
UConn (38-13, 13-5 Big East) will look to even the series against the Bluejays on Friday. First pitch in Omaha is at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on FloSports.