Creighton coach Ed Servais has been concerned with the way his team has started games at times in this season.
And in Pacific's 5-2 win on Saturday that ended CU's four-game winning streak at a frigid TD Ameritrade Park in front of 1,973, it wasn't just the fact that the Jays fell behind early.
It was the way the Bluejays fell behind that bothered Servais.
After Creighton starter Nick Musec issued a leadoff walk to Brett Sullivan to start the game, the Tigers put on a bunt play with the mindset that runs might be at a premium in what was to be the coldest game in the 71-contest history of the stadium.
Curtis Gomez squared to bunt and Musec fielded the ball and fired to first for the out.
The problem was nobody covered third base. Sullivan hustled to third uncontested.
Dustin Torchio followed by lifting a flyball to center field, and Sullivan was able to tag up and give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.
“That to me was an indicator of where we were today a little bit,” Servais said of the sacrifice bunt.
“That's a play that can't happen at this level. That play doesn't go down on the box score as an error, but that's a huge mental mistake that we made.”
The game-time temperature of 32 degrees bested the previous TD Ameritrade Park low of 40 degrees on April 19, 2011, but Servais refused to blame the weather on what he said was his team's lack of energy.
“I think you could see us just about a half a step late on a lot of what we did today, and I'd like to tell you that it was the weather, but (Pacific) played in it too. And they seemed to not have a lot of problems with it,” Servais said.
The Bluejays rebounded in the second inning when Kevin Lamb tied the game 1-1 with a two-out RBI single that drove in Reagan Fowler. Fowler earlier reached base on a one-out single and then stole second to get into scoring position.
The Bluejays threatened to break the tie in the third inning, loading the bases on a double by Jake Peter and back-to-back two-out walks to Alex Staehely and Fowler to put Pacific starter Cory Popham on the ropes.
But Brennan Murphy, who entered the game hitting .211, tried to bunt his way aboard on the first pitch he saw.
Popham came off the mound to field the bunt cleanly and threw Murphy out at first base to snuff the rally.
Servais said the two-out bunt was called from the bench.
“We thought that Murphy's a good bunter, and we thought we could kind of surprise them,” Servais said.
Pacific grabbed the lead back for good in the fifth inning after Gio Brusa doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a single by Tyler Sullivan.
Brusa scored on Brett Sullivan's sacrifice fly, and Tyler Sullivan later scored on a two-out single by Dustin Torchio to give the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
A two-run seventh stretched Pacific's lead to 5-1.
Creighton scored a run in the bottom of the ninth and had runners at first and third with two out with Staehely coming to the plate as the tying run.
But Staehely grounded a ball to third baseman JJ Wagner, who flipped it to second to force Mike Gerber and end the game.
Popham got the win on the mound for Pacific, improving to 2-0 and lowering his ERA to 2.18. He struck out four Bluejays and walked three in his five innings of work.
Musec (0-2) took the loss for the Bluejays as he surrendered three runs in five innings with one strikeout and a walk.
After splitting the first two, the Tigers and Bluejays will play the rubber game of the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park.
Brett Swain (1-0, 0.00 ERA in two innings) is expected to start for the Bluejays while sophomore righty Michael Benson (2-0, 1.78) is the probable starter for Pacific.
Pacific (6-11) ........................... 100 020 200—5 11 1
At Creighton (9-4) ........................... 010 000 001—2 11 1
W: Popham, 2-0. L: Musec, 0-2. S: Hammann, 1. 2B: UP, Brusa (3), Taasaas (2). CU, Peter (3), Lamb (2), McKewon (4). A: 1,973.
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