Creighton Edges Dawgs in NCAA Tourney Opener

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Jonas Dufek pitched a complete game five-hitter to lead No. 25 Creighton to a 2-1 victory over Georgia in the NCAA Corvallis Regional Friday at Goss Stadium.

Dufek (12-1) and Georgia junior right-hander Michael Palazzone carried a shutout  through the first six frames, allowing just three hits apiece at that point.  The Bulldogs dodged a bullet following a miscue by freshman catcher Brandon Stephens that allowed the Bluejays to put a runner at third with out in the sixth.

In that inning, Creighton center fielder Mike Gerber reached on a one-out single. Following a pitchout, Stephens' pickoff attempt to  first sailed into right field, allowing Gerber to advance to third on the error. Georgia coach David Perno came out for a mound visit with Palazzone, Stephens and the entire infield. Georgia opted to bring the infield in and Palazzone struck out Chance Ross for the second out. First baseman Nick Judkins followed, and he was retired on a pop out to second baseman Levi Hyams.

In the seventh, Bulldog designated hitter Chase Davidson beat out an infield single. First baseman Jonathan Hester snapped a 1-for-27 slump with an RBI-double over the head of Gerber for a 1-0 advantage. The Bluejays responded in the bottom of the inning.

After being held to just three hits to that point, Creighton collected four hits and grabbed the lead. Jimmy Swift reached on a leadoff single and right fielder Trevor Adams followed with a flare to center. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Alex Staehely, catcher Scott Thornburg tied the game with an RBI-single to right as Adams advanced to third. Left fielder Anthony Bemboom gave the Bluejays a 2-1 lead with a run-scoring single to centerfield. Palazzone retired the next two hitters on pop outs to send it to the eighth. Dufek took care of the Bulldogs over the final two innings to go the distance.

The Bluejays improved to 45-14 while Georgia dropped to 31-31. Dufek ran his record to 12-1, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Palazzone fell to 10-5, surrendering two runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

"Creighton did a good job responding with two runs right after we scratched for one so you have to give them credit," said Georgia coach David Perno. "(Jonas) Dufek did a nice job on the mound, and we didn't hit enough balls on the ground. We had too many pop ups and punch outs.  It was extremely disappointing that we couldn't find a way to back up Michael who pitched a good game for us today."

"He threw some off-speed stuff and just kept us off balance," Hester said when asked about Dufek. "I don't think we had a good approach at the plate consistently. We know what we have to do now. Our backs are against the wall, and we'll have to come out Saturday and keep fighting."