What happens when an immaculate run ends?
Does it disappear like a laser around a bend?
Like a deer getting spooked in the night
And then runs?
Does it sit on the grass like morning dew?
Or does it glisten and start anew
like a drunk Catholic in a pew?
Maybe it just takes a hop and rolls on
like a well bunted ball.
Or does it transform?
For the past week it seemed like Creighton was this unkillable behemoth that could come back from seemingly any deficit. The previous week was a delirious stooper in the scheme of college baseball with the Bluejays manufacturing runs in the most Creighton baseball way possible; base hits, bunts, stolen bases and sacrifices. The way this team meticulously picked apart their opponents was like a neuro surgeon showing up for his first day on the job with all of his fingers replaced with the surgical tools and a fifth of whisky in their back pocket. They were going to get the job done, with the tools already at their disposal, and they were going to have a damn good time doing it.
When your eyeballs perused the team's schedule earlier in the year, I'm betting that your eyes gazed long and hard at the April 19th game that read:
A sense of dreaded excitement began clogging every neuron in your brain, forcing you to cry yet remain hyper aware. The thought of playing an SEC opponent - one who seemingly makes an annual pilgrimage to Omaha every June - at their home stadium was terrifying. The thought of those short porches in the corners against Creighton's pitching was a nightmarish scene to behold in one's imagination.
On the other hand, it was a good opportunity for Creighton to see what their competition would be like if they did make it to that magical weekend after their conference tournament. It'd be a boost to their RPI and they'd be able to gain a great deal of experience from a highly skilled opponent.
Instead, Arkansas was the one to gain from an RPI standpoint and their pitching had been so awful in the previous eight games that they continued to go to the well and pull out freshman pitchers because everyone else kept plunking batters or walking batters or giving up dingers. They needed this game, at least from a confidence standpoint, way more so than the Bluejays did.
Arkansas got their confidence boost and they can thank the sweet swing and body mass of one Chad Spanberger. Spanberger is a gigantic human and it appears that he eats entire lambs for his daily meals. This dude is so big that he could fight Godzilla and eat a New York slice while dribbling a baby grand piano like a soccer ball. This dude is so big that I stole a bit from Johnny Carson to properly explain how big this guy really is. He took Stroschein deep in the bottom of the second to put the Razorbacks up 2-0. Spanberger then doubled in the 6th inning to drive home his fourth RBI (reached in the fourth on a Fitzgerald error, collected a RBI). Overall, Spanberger single handedly drove the Razorback offense.
Throughout the telecast on the SEC Network it became clear that the two broadcasters had one talking point about our lovely Ed Servais: He's an infield defense guru who teaches his players how to throw a ball accurately. What's worse is that the Bluejays infield defense did not play particularly well in this game.
Ryan Fitzgerald is, without a doubt, the best fielding second baseman in the BIG EAST. Unfortunately, he had a sub-par game against the Razorbacks, making a costly throwing error in a 3-run fourth inning that could've helped blot out some of the bleeding that the Jays were spilling all over the field.
Regardless, the offense actually produced some really good at bats that turned into runners on base. The caveat is that these runners, in order to win in a game of base, need to cross home plate to score. The Bluejays left 6 runners on base, which seems to be the bane of their existence when playing in a high stakes game. They did it against Fresno State earlier in the year, they did it again in Lincoln against the red team, and they did it again tonight against Arkansas.
Fortunately for you, me, and everyone else, this is but a single midweek game. The weight of this loss will be offset if the Jays show well this weekend in Provo. BYU is the class of the WCC - a conference that normally boasts some pretty good baseball programs that enter postseason play - and have a RPI of 38.
So it goes.
See you on Friday!