Creighton Bluejays (11-11, 0-3 MVC) vs. Evansville Purple Aces (16-9, 1-2 MVC)
- Friday: 6:00 p.m., Omaha
- Saturday: 2:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 1:00 p.m.
The Creighton Bluejays begin the home portion of their Missouri Valley Conference schedule in a hole. After suffering a sweep by Missouri State last weekend, the Jays look for their first MVC win against Evansville. Historically Creighton always fares well against the Aces; Ed Servais-coached teams are 12-2 in the two teams’ last 14 games.
The Bluejays will bounce around the radio dial a bit this weekend. Friday and Sunday’s games will be broadcast on KOZN 1620 AM, while Saturday’s contest will appear on KOIL 1180 AM. Tune in 20 minutes before first pitch and catch the pregame show; John Bishop and David Gustafson will get you set for each game. You can also track live stats here, and/or get in-game updates via Twitter updates at @gocreighton and @CU_baseball.
[Click here for an interview with Ed Servais, ahead of this weekend’s games.]
Creighton entered last weekend winners of five of their last six games. That positive momentum came to a screeching halt in Springfield, Missouri, where the Missouri State Bears swept the Bluejays in dominant fashion. To make matters worse, the Jays hosted Nebraska-Omaha, new to Division I baseball, at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha Tuesday night and lost 3-2. Creighton collected just 19 hits in the four-game losing streak (4.75 per game) and were outscored 18-5.
Evansville also started MVC play last weekend, hosting in-state rival Indiana State. The Aces dropped the first and third games against the Sycamores, salvaging a win on Saturday. Cole Isom was on the wrong side of a great pitching duel Friday; he went 9 innings and gave up just 2 runs on 9 hits. But Dakota Bacus, his counterpart at ISU, struck out 13 Aces in 9 innings while surrendering no runs on 4 hits in the 2-0 win. Kyle Lloyd followed Isom with a solid start Saturday, going 8 innings and striking out 9 while allowing just 2 runs. He left trailing 2-1, though, and the Aces needed a ninth inning comeback to win 3-2. The Sycamores shut out Evansville Sunday, 6-0, even though UE outhit the Trees 9-6.
The Aces come to town with a win, though, having blanked Lipscomb 5-0 in a midweek game ahead of their trip to Omaha.
The Jays and Aces first met on the diamond in 1993. They’ve played 62 games, with Creighton holding a 39-23 advantage. In Omaha the Jays are 20-6 against UE, but CU has a losing record against the Aces in Evansville (16-18).
On the Mound
- Friday: CU’s Ty Blach (3-2, 2.01 ERA) vs. UE’s Cole Isom (1-3, 3.49)
- Saturday: CU’s Erik Mattingly (0-1, 1.59) vs. UE’s Kyle Lloyd (3-1, 2.73)
- Sunday: CU’s Andrew Urban (1-1, 3.10) vs. UE’s Kyle Freeland (1-3, 5.02)
Creighton enters the weekend with a 3.85 team ERA, while opponents post a combined 3.67 ERA. Ty Blach pitched well against Missouri State last Friday but dropped to 3-2 on the season. Erik Mattingly earned a surprise Saturday start and fared well, throwing 4 innings of 1-run ball. But he too left with a loss. Andrew Urban lasted less than 3 innings Sunday, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, as he and five other CU hurlers couldn’t make Creighton’s 3-run first inning hold up.
The Aces enter the weekend with a 3.50 team ERA; opponents post a 3.89 ERA against UE. Weekend starters Isom (3.49), Lloyd (2.73), and Freeland (5.02) are a combined 5-7, while midweek starter Ryan Billo (2.15 ERA) is a perfect 4-0 in five starts. The Evansville bullpen relies heavily on Jake Naumann (12 appearances) and Josh Biggs (13 appearances), and they post 2.95 and 1.02 ERAs respectively. Biggs has posted 4 saves in 2012.
At the Plate
Times are tough for the Creighton offense. The Jays post a .242 team batting average while opponents are hitting 22 points better (.264). The Bluejays have scored runs in just two of their last 36 innings. They’ve scored just 5 runs in the past 4 games; the last time that happened was at the end of the 2003 season, Jack Dahm’s last as CU’s skipper.
Nick Judkins is Creighton’s only regular starter with a batting average over .300 (.341), and he leads the team with 19 RBI. Brad McKewon got three starts in left field against the Bears last weekend and has pushed his average to .306, as he establishes himself as a viable offensive option for Ed Servais. Returners Mike Gerber (.177) and Alex Staehely (.198) continue to struggle.
Tim Bodine (.353, 10 RBI) leads the Aces in average, while Jason Hockemeyer (.313, 9 RBI) and Eric Stamets (.300, 9 RBI) also hit .300 or better. Stamets is 18-19 in stolen base opportunities, and Evansville as a team are 41-55 on the base paths. Jake Mahon leads UE with 20 RBI. And in 25 games, the Aces have hit just one home run.
Facts, Figures, and Fodder
We Carroll, Evansville’s head coach, was a Freshman All-America honoree at UE and is part of the MVC All-Centennial team… Prior to last season’s 10-1 loss in the series finale between the two teams, the Jays were on a six-game win streak against the Aces… Creighton, always a stalwart defensively, is currently 11th in the nation with a .980 fielding percentage. Evansville has an identical percentage, though, tying with the Jays atop the Valley for that mark… Stamets is leads the Valley with 18 steals and is tied for third in the league with 10 doubles … Mahon leads the league in being hit by pitches (12)…Watch out for sac bunts this weekend: Mahon, Bodine, Geber, and Anthony Bemboom are tied atop the MVC with 6 sac bunts apiece.
It will feel like College World Series weather at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha this weekend. Accuweather forecasts highs in the UPPER 80s Saturday and Sunday, and a beautiful upper 60s temp for first pitch Friday night. Here’s hoping the weather isn’t the best part of Creighton’s first Valley home series of the season.