- Friday: 6:30 p.m. at Rosenblatt Stadium
- Saturday: 2:00 p.m. at CU Sports Complex
- Sunday: 1:00 p.m. at CU Sports Complex
Time is running out for the Bluejays to make a move toward the top of the Valley standings. Creighton has just two conference series remaining: home contests against Evansville and Wichita State. The Purple Aces are currently in 3rd place (based on winning percentage), but have played just 9 Valley games. The Bluejays, on the other hand, are in 6th place and already have 15 conference contests under their belts. Creighton is one of just two Valley schools (Bradley’s the other) below .500 at home this season (CU is 4-8 at Rosenblatt and the Complex).
Speaking of home games … Ed Servais can thank Greg McDermott and Bruce Rasmussen for shielding Jays fans’ attention from the baseball team’s two losses to Air Force at Rosenblatt Tuesday. It was the start of something fresh and different for the men’s basketball program, but for the baseball team the day brought yet another disappointing result to a trip to the ‘Blatt. But the Jays turned things around Wednesday, posting 6 runs in the first inning and opening a 14-0 lead before hanging on to beat Iowa 15-10.
And speaking of McDermott … the new Big Man On Campus will throw out the first pitch Friday night before the Jays and Aces get down to business.
Temperatures are supposed to be in the mid-60s all weekend, but we’ll see. Friday afternoon might be a bit rainy, so dress accordingly for tonight’s game. I’ll leave the rest of the weekend to the pros, below.
Last weekend… Creighton took the first game of the series from Missouri State, then lost a couple of one-run games during a Sunday doubleheader. Meanwhile the Aces did just the opposite: the bounced back from a one-run loss to Bradley on Friday with 15-5 and 15-13 wins during a Sunday doubleheader.
Last year… Creighton traveled to Evansville and took two of three games from the Aces.
Historically… CU leads UE 36-24. Evansville and Creighton met for the first time in 1993, and from that point through 2001 the Aces led the series 15-10. But the Bluejays have only lost one series to UE since 2002, and have lost just one time in the two teams’ last eight meetings.
On the Mound
Creighton’s pitching staff fares better than the Aces hurlers in earned run average (4.88 vs. 5.91) and opposing batting average (.269 vs. .293).
Individually, Creighton’s Ty Blach and UE’s Keegan Dennis stack up well against the rest of the Valley’s pitching leaders. Blach is 5th in the conference in ERA (2.70) and 2nd in opposing batting average (.210), while Dennis is 6th in opposing average (.246) and 6th in strikeouts (50). Two other pitchers for these teams — CU’s Jonas Dufek and UE’s Corey Davisson — are tied for the Valley lead in wins (6).
If the game is close late, the Jays will need to content with UE closer Tom Heithoff, who is on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List. So, keep putting up 6-run 1st innings, Creighton.
At the Plate
Evansville leads Creighton in every team offensive category. OK, so they’re tied with 11 triples. And UE has hit just 2 more home runs than CU. But other than that, it is all Purple Aces. That includes tripling Creighton’s stolen base count: UE has 99 as a team, while the Jays have just 33. Carson Vitale et al better have their arms loose this weekend.
Individually, Evansville is led by junior Greg Wallace. He has won the past two MVC Player of the Week awards. His efforts last week included hitting .500 with 7 extra-base hits (3 home runs) and driving in 14 RBI in just four games. Wallace is in the top ten in the conference for batting average (3rd), slugging percentage (2nd), on-base percentage (9th), runs scored (3rd), hits (1st), RBI (1st), doubles (2nd), triples (1st), home runs (4th), and total bases (1st).
Just don’t pitch to the guy, Ed. Please.
In the Field
The Bluejays still lead the Valley in fielding percentage, but Evansville is 2nd in the conference. The Aces have turned the most double plays in the conference in 2010 (42), while the Jays have turned the fewest (23). We’ll see if the Aces try to wreck havoc on the base paths this weekend, which always makes things interesting for a defense.
Facts, Figures, and Fodder
According to the Creighton Sports Information Office, freshman Mark Winkleman is scheduled to start Friday’s series opener in place of Jonas Dufek. In fact, the entire weekend starting rotation will get a rest, with Mike Nihsen taking the mound for game two and Greg Hellhake starting game three… Wallace’s 62 RBI are the 4th highest total in the nation through Thursday… UE’s Eric Stamets is also 4th in the country in stolen bases (35)… UE’s head coach Wes Carroll is a 2001 graduate of the school… Vitale had his best game as a Bluejay Wednesday against Iowa. He went 5-5 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI, finishing just a triple short of the cycle…Since moving to the #2 spot in the batting order, CU’s Jimmy Swift is hitting a team-best .368 with 12 runs scored.
John Bishop and Dave Gustafson once again will bring all the Creighton baseball action back to Omaha via local radio. All three games will broadcast live on Omaha’s 1620 AM station, with live streaming available for free at www.gocreighton.com. Live stats are also available at the Creighton site.