Ah, baseball. The fresh air, the green grass, the sub-par quality of the majority of BIG EAST teams who participate in the bat and ball sport. It feels like it's been ages since we waxed about how terrible Xavier baseball was or how great Ryan McCormick could be.
Now we enter a conference slate that features certainty in two regards: this is Creighton's year to finally get to the promised land and everyone else in the BIG EAST will get to sit around and watch them win.
Seton Hall is the most imminent threat on the Bluejay's radar. The Pirates strolled into Omaha with a 21-8 and an opportunity to pick up their first conference win of the season. Unfortunately, their defense didn't make the trip and their offensive prowess was left in a box of chalk in South Orange.
Creighton, however, came into this game with a 18-6 record along with a 12-1 record when playing at home. Creighton has become a defensive behemoth this year, with middle infielders Ryan Fitzgerald and Nicky Lopez acting as a Hoover vacuum, turning anything hit towards them into outs.
This became a game of cat and mouse, the cat being Creighton's offense - a mixed bag of routine hits and bunts to anyone listed at 1-6 on the defensive chart - and the mouse being Seton Hall's defense - a sad trombone to all of my attempted punchlines. In the first inning alone Seton Hall managed two errors - one by catcher Mike Alescio, who tried to fire back to third to catch a begging Daniel Woodrow cheating off the bag, only to throw it deep into left field, and another by second baseman Mike Caputo who let a ball roll innocently through his 5-hole - while Creighton offense accounted for just 3 hits. The result was a 3-0 Creighton lead.
This game featured two aces dueling from the center of the infield. For the Pirates, it was Shane McCarthy who posted a 3.43 ERA in 42 innings pitched. His catcher let him down immensely, with all the errors and passed balls and just the general nonsense that comes with making costly mistakes in a game with the highest of stakes. After the tumultuous first, McCarthy managed to settle down and his defense decided to quit letting him down and proceeded to cruise through 7 innings allowing just 4 hits, striking out 5, and being nailed with just one earned run.
For Creighton it was Rollie Lacy. Lacy, arguably the most talented pitcher in the BIG EAST, went toe to toe with McCarthy. Previous to the game beginning, Lacy posted a 2.52 ERA. Against Seton Hall, Lacy went 7.1 innings, allowed just 3 hits and one earned run. It was a magnificent performance that featured strikeouts to end a scoring threat in the first. He cruised until the 8th, where he beaned the first batter he faced and inevitably was pulled for Highberger.
Seton Hall began to threaten in the top of the 8th as they managed to break the shutout with a Zack Weigel double down the left field line. With the score 3-1, Seton Hall managed to load the bases and send second baseman prodigy and future alumni Mike Caputo to the plate with a chance to be a hero. Instead, David Gerber managed to strike out Caputo on three straight pitches, ending the Pirate threat of taking over the game.
All in all, the Bluejays were able to force the Pirates to make mistakes and then hold on for dear life as the Pirates attempted to mount a comeback, but to no avail. The Jays improve to 19-6 on the year while Seton Hall drops to 21-9.
Here's some stats: