TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Creighton's first Missouri Valley series at TD Ameritrade Park figures to carry high stakes.
The Bluejays completed a sweep of Indiana State Sunday when Nick Judkins led off the ninth inning with his third homer to give Creighton a 6-5 victory. The win improved the Bluejays to 26-7, leaving them alone in first place in the Valley at 5-1.
Southern Illinois, tied for second at 4-2, will open a three-game series at TD Ameritrade Friday.
“As it turns out, our first series at the new park is going to be a huge series for us,” Creighton coach Ed Servais said. “We're in the position we want to be in at this point, but we still have a long way to go.
“One of my concerns right now is getting comfortable with the new field. We haven't even walked on it, and we're playing on it Tuesday. In order for it to become a positive home-field advantage, we need to get comfortable with it. I'm anxious for our practice there Monday so we can start learning how the grass will play and how the wind affects balls.”
Creighton's victory Sunday completed its first sweep of the Sycamores since 2007 and ran its winning streak to six. The Bluejays have won 10 of 12 games, with one of the losses coming at Nebraska. They'll face the Huskers in Tuesday's inaugural game at Omaha's new downtown stadium.
Indiana State had tied Sunday's game 5-5 in the eighth when Robby Ort hit a two-run homer off Mark Winkelman. Judkins then connected for Creighton's third homer of the game and its eighth of the series.
“I was just looking to get something started,” Judkins said. “I was looking for a good pitch that I could hit hard somewhere. He definitely put it in there for me, and I knew I had hit it well. I was just hoping it was high enough to clear the fence.
“I've been struggling at the plate all season, and getting that homer was definitely big for me. It's a big confidence booster.”
Judkins went 3 of 7 the last two games of the series, raising his average to .237. A couple of other Bluejays who had been struggling made big contributions as Anthony Bemboom hit two homers in Friday's 4-0 win while Scott Thornburg, hitting .200 coming into the series, went 4 for 7 the final two games to raise his average to .246.
Servais said it was good to see some other players step up to take pressure off the Bluejays' three most productive hitters — Trever Adams, Alex Staehely and Jimmy Swift.
“We have guys that are capable of contributing,” Servais said, “but they just need to get comfortable. They've been putting way too much pressure on themselves.”
Judkins said Creighton could be capable of special things if the Bluejays can start getting production up and down the lineup.
“We’ve been doing this well without some of us swinging it good,” he said. “We’ve been playing great defense, we’ve been getting great starting pitching and our bullpen has been solid. If some of us could get rolling, we have the potential to go far.”