Creighton outslugs St. John's in record-setting fashion to reach Big East tournament title game

Jack Strunc, who had a double and scored three runs, celebrates with teammates.

MASON, Ohio — Creighton’s lineup took full advantage of the Big East tournament’s hitter-friendly ballpark Friday night, launching an event-record six home runs in a 17-13 victory over St. John’s.

The Jays did temporarily squander a six-run lead — the Red Storm surged ahead 11-9 in the fifth inning.

But CU answered with seven runs in its half of the fifth. Junior Will Robertson and sophomore David Vilches both smashed three-run homers in that decisive fifth to help No. 25 Creighton seize momentum.

The victory moves the Jays (37-11) into the conference tournament title game at 5 p.m. Saturday. The winner of a Saturday afternoon elimination game between No. 2 seed Xavier and No. 3 seed St. John’s would have to beat CU twice to clinch the crown.

If the first two days of action at Prasco Park are any indication, the champion will have definitely earned it.

Creighton had to score three times in both the eighth and ninth innings to earn a comeback win over Seton Hall in the tournament opener Thursday.

Then on Friday, CU and St. John’s combined for a Big East tournament record 30 runs in a marathon affair that lasted just more than four hours. The Jays crushed a season-high six homers — finishing two shy of their program record, which was recorded in the same ballpark a year ago.

But the Red Storm (31-22) didn’t fold, even after Creighton used a seven-run fifth to jump ahead 16-11. The Red Storm scored twice in the seventh — and a potential tying home run ball was caught on the warning track to end the inning.

Junior Parker Upton gave CU some insurance with a solo homer in the eighth inning. And closer Bobby Kametas did the rest.

Kametas matched his longest outing of the season. He wiggled out of the seventh-inning jam. Then he retired the side in order in the eighth. He pitched around a leadoff single and a one-out walk in the ninth to clinch his ninth save of the year.

The four other Jays pitchers who took the mound Friday weren’t as sharp. Then again, the Red Storm staff had similar issues.

After St. John’s took a 3-0 lead four batters into the game, the Jays answered with a four-run first and a five-run second. Junior Jake Holton hit his 14th homer of the year. Junior Isaac Collins added a blast of his own. And Vilches, who had set a tournament record Friday with seven RBIs, hit his first of two three-run homers. That made it 9-3.

The Red Storm scored the next eight runs, but Creighton eventually responded by sending 12 men to the plate in the bottom of the fifth.

The Jays have won seven straight games. They have not won the Big East tournament championship since joining the league. The Jays have advanced to the title game for the first time since 2016.

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