According to this little book called the Bible (best selling book of all-time, no big deal), Jesus walked through the desert for 40 days and that event is commemorated in the Catholic tradition of Lent.
Pardon my blaspheming, but Xavier just finished making its way through a desert of its own. It was one made mostly by its own hands, but visiting Tempe, Arizona to play Arizona State also makes the desert much more than a convenient metaphor. On average, Tempe gets 1.14 inches of rain during the month of February, and it rarely gets much lower than 73 degrees during the day. It is just minutes away from the Salt River (sounds refreshing, no?) and right inside the reach of a little thing called the Sonoran Desert.
While most wander through deserts to find peace, inspiration or in the case of the boys from Entourage, a way to get E to speak and Joshua Tree, Xavier went through the arid waste to find a baseball victory. Problem is, it found none. Over the course of three days, the Musketeers lost four times, giving them an 0-4 mark to start the 2016 season.
You may be looking for a cool drink of positive outlook and we here at BECB are here to oblige.
Greg Jacknewitz posted a 3.07 ERA in 20 appearances as a sophomore and he earned himself a spot in the starting rotation this year. His first start went as well as you could hope, as he allowed two runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. The lefthander's only sin was that he failed to strike out many batters, collecting just one punchout. He also let more balls fly through the air then roll in the dirt, with 10 outs by fly ball and eight by ground ball.
Jacknewitz and the rest of the staff benefited from strong defensive play. Arizona State had to earn every run it got, as the X committed just a single error and is currently sitting with a .992 fielding percentage.
The return of Daniel Rizzie was a major reason for optimism for this club. The hero of the unexpected run to the Big East title in 2014, Rizzie missed most of last season with an injury. He came on strong to start the season, smacking five singles in 15 at bats. However, the lack of punch from behind him kept him stranded at first base looking for something to do. For what its worth, Blaine Griffiths went 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI. His double was one of seven extra base hits from the X.
To be honest, even though they lost all four games, the Musketeers weren't exactly blown off the map by the Sun Devils. Sure, a 5.63 team ERA isn't anything to brag about, but it isn't an end-of-the-world scenario that the staff created at Villanova. Still, giving up five runs a game won't cut it, especially when the bats are silent. Speaking of, the team's slash line (.203/.263/.277) and strikeout total (41) means the Musketeers didn't make enough contact, didn't show pop and didn't get on base. That led to a total of six runs and 38 bases. No ducks on the pond makes for very little motion in the water.
Xavier doesn't get come home just yet. Actually, it won't get to do that until March 16. For now, it will just continue a major road trip with a three-game series against Mercer.