Before this game I sat and talked with a real journalist and he explained to me the ramifications that tonight's game brought. He noted that, for this first time in a long time, both teams had a great deal riding on this game - a true rubber match that would add a great deal of weight to the resume of the winning team. Creighton, who sat in the top-40 in RPI, could've added a solid win if they beat a top 60 RPI Nebraska.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
In a strange turn of fate this game featured three majestic dongs; two by Nebraska's Scott Schreiber - a two run dong and a three run dong - and one by Nicky Lopez - a solo shot but good for the first of his career. On a night where the flags lay limp and the air kissed the skin with a sense of spring ferocity, it was no surprise that the ball was going to carry a bit if a player were to barrel it up. Another factor that played into the moon shots that fell over the wall was the reliance on bullpen arms due to the fact that this was a midweek game.
Nebraska got things going immediately in the bottom of the first, getting their first five batters on base by way of a double, HBP, and three consecutive singles. Before freshman Austin Stroschein could even contemplate the game of base it was already 3-0. His fastball was flat and he was forced to rely on offspeed pitches. It was enough to knock the Huskers off-balance for a short duration, but the damage had been done.
The second inning featured no scoring - a relative oddity in this matchup.
Then we got to the third. On the first pitch of his at-bat, Nicky Lopez uncorked this majestic dongshot over the right field wall:
GOODBYE, HOME RUN! Nicky Lopez gets the Bluejays on the board with a solo blast to right field! #GoJays https://t.co/V1Zwi0T186— Creighton Baseball (@CU_Baseball) May 18, 2016
Men and women alike wept happily in the crowd. The eyes of children became as large as the moon. A Nicky Lopez dong was all these folks needed to get their spirits up. Unfortunately, the Nebraska Cornchuckers exist for one reason: to be a total buzzkill.
In the bottom of the third Scott Schreiber utilized the second pitch he saw and promptly deposited it over the left-center field wall. As the ball traveled, Danny Woodrow kept pace, but alas he met the wall and was forced to watch the ball sail over his head. Jesse Wilkening then doubled and that was about all Ed Servais could stomach for his young starting hurler, and promptly fingered Connor Miller to steady the ship. An error and two singles later the Huskers had doubled their score and led 6-1.
I stirred for a bit within my own soul. I decided that I must muster the courage to write something captivating to keep the mind rolling along. I wrote this poem:
A Bluejay can only swing a bat
A Bluejay cannot go tit for tat
For a Bluejay is a bird and not a cat
"This poem is stupid," thanks for that.
A Husker is a farmer in a field
A farmer with corn that he wields
Corn is projecting higher yields
Bananas are a fruit that are peeled
The ballgame played on for the full 9 innings, but there was an event in the fifth that gave the Bluejay faithful a bit of hope. It came in the form of a Buntatron 2000 double. After a Keith Oren lineout, Danny Woodrow managed to single to the left side. Just then, our lord almighty Nicky Lopez - who once promised to take us to the promised land - shot a single up the middle to score Buntatron 2000. The Jays were hacking into the lead, but their hacks were dry and into a dirty toilet bowl.
Midweek games are a gas if your team boasts a wealth of power throughout the lineup. It gives them an opportunity to swing away at their opponent's 4th or 5th best starters, and the results usually feature comically high scores. Nebraska happened to be that power-laden team. Creighton happened to be that hapless opponent.
The bottom of the sixth happened. We can all sit here and acknowledge the fact that it happened. I'll give you an idea of what happened:
By the end of it all it was 10-2 featuring dongs and doubles and depressing things that make me shake my fists at everything that moves.
Then it was 12-2.
Then it was 15-2 featuring 22 hits.
Today was the last game Creighton would play at TD Ameritrade Park in the regular season so here's the list of seniors on Creighton's baseball team and one interesting fact about them:
Will Bamesberger - has two glass eyes he calls 'Mortonsen' and 'Ralph'
Harrison Crawford - can dunk a frisbee into a below-ground swimming pool
Ryan Fitzgerald - possess the ability to consume food
Reagan Fowler - reads children's books to purebread dogs in his freetime
Matt Gandy - once prank called a pizza hut only to get his long lost brother on the other line
Nick Highberger - found a glass bottle in the trash
Connor Miller - ate at a Quiznos once
Brett Murray - tried to create an app in his dorm room but accidentally created the internet
John Oltman - binge watched the entirety of Bonanza in high school and wrote a 230 page fan fiction about Bonanza, sent it to the original creator of Bonanza and received a check of $13.98 for the rights to his story. The story was eventually adapted for the screen but was renamed Sleepless in Seattle.
Matt Warren - ate nachos at a carnival when he was a kid
Thanks for all your hard work this year guys, good season, way to get at it.
Creighton started the season with little fanfare from the folks in Omaha. As the season progressed and the team kept winning, it appeared that this was a team with a makeup of something special. The 25th anniversary of the 1991 College World Series team was celebrated mid-season, and at that point it appeared that the chance of Creighton replicating that success was well within the cards. The talents of Lopez, Gandy, Woodrow, Fowler and Buntatron 2000 appeared to be enough to propel this team to super stardom. The rotation looked infallible, with Lacy in top form, the King of Anthills the ace of Saturdays, and Rogalla rounding it out with his eclectic, overpowering, emotional performances. The bullpen arms of fireman Oltman, long man Miller, the door slammer Gerber, and set-up man DeCaster seemed to breathe a sense of unyielding confidence late in games.
Now, the team limps and shakes to the finish line. It all appeared to come unhinged in the Sunday game against Georgetown, a daunting reminder that baseball can be as beautiful as it is tragic. From the Hoya comeback to win in the 9th to the beating in Wichita and the sinking collapses against Xavier, it seems like the magic this team played with has dissipated in their bare hands. This beating from Nebraska may have been the last gasp before the team is reborn into something different.
In the year of the bunt, we all won.
We all won.