If I told you at the beginning of the season that a BIG EAST team would be ranked in the top 25 in the first week of May you probably would've shrugged your shoulders and said, "Yeah I guess that makes sense. It's probably Creighton, right?" Heh, right on, brother. The Bluejays came into this game ranked #23 in Baseball America's weekly poll while Georgetown came into the game not ranked in any poll that I could find after 45 minutes of research.
Georgetown currently sits 3.5 games behind the Jays in the BIG EAST standings and are currently enjoying a nice 3-game winning streak heading into Omaha. Their latest opponent was the mighty Coppin State, who they beat 4-3 in a midweek affair.
Creighton is currently tops in the BIG EAST with a 2 game advantage over second place Xavier.
Oh my God Xavier is in second place. In May. I... I don't even know where to start. For the duration of the 2015 season I poked a great deal of fun at the Musketeers for being the worst collegiate baseball program I'd ever seen. Wh... where have I been the past two weeks? How could the other BIG EAST teams let that happen? Oh man I don't... I don't know if I can do this anymore. This is just the worst.
* * *
Creighton got things going tonight in the bottom of the first after shark enthusiast and starting pitcher Rollie Lacy managed to work around a Michael Derenzi basehit to post a goose egg in the top half of the inning. It all started with a Danny Woodrow single to center - which then led to a steal of second (as it usually does). Nicky Lopez then sac bunted to move Woodrow to third. Ryan Fitzgerald then dug in and doubled down the right field line, scoring Woodrow easily.
The next two innings went on without any runs but featured some superb defense by the Bluejays. The one thing about this team that really stands out is their ability to make difficult plays look easy; I know that's a clichè but this team truly embodies it. They do all the little things correctly and without any fuss. What Georgetown finds difficult (making routine plays) Creighton flourishes unlike a Junebug in any month but June. Watching Creighton play a BIG EAST opponent is like watching a pornographic film with a really bad script - on one hand it's great, in the other it's just another sad and pathetic piece of work.
The scoring resumed in the 4th inning with Georgetown's Michael Derenzi blasting a ball well over the head of Brett Murray in left field, ending up at third with a triple. Derenzi crossed the plate after Joe Bialkowski grounded out to the right side, knotting the score up at 1-1. With two outs, Jake Bernstein drew a walk and eventually stole second base. Charlie Dillon then singled to Brett Murray - who was playing medium-deep in left field - and managed to score Bernstein from second. This gave the Hoyas a 2-1 advantage.
It wouldn't last long.
In the bottom of the fourth, Matt Gandy would approach the dish and single to right field. Brett Murray would take a similar approach but cut a bit deeper with a double down the right field line, caroming it off the jutting-out wall and force right fielder Derenzi to take an elongated route. Gandy, with his lightning fast quickness, would score from first while Murray ended up on second. The crowd roared; 6,000+ showed up on this beautiful Friday night to witness the Jays and Hoyas battle it out.
Rollie Lacy continued to deal with an off-balance approach to the Hoya hitters, mixing up his pitches like your burnout neighbor mixes up spray paint in a paper bag. It was a tremendous effort from his part; going 6 strong innings with 3 strikeouts, 5 walks, 2 earned runs, and 12 groundouts on 89 pitches thrown.
The crowd had swelled by the sixth inning; it was clear that these folks had arrived to see a ballgame and stayed for the duration of it. Had the crowds been this impressive all year long it would've made for a fine atmosphere. As they say in everyone's least favorite baseball movie, "If you build it, they will come." Ed Servais built it, and they finally came. During the last weekend series.
The bottom of the sixth arrived and started with a double off the bat of Reagan Fowler. Had this been that awful stadium in Provo the ball would've sailed majestically over the wall for a solo dongshot but alas the ball caromed off the 375 sign in right-center field, allowing safe passage for Fowler into second base. Matt Gandy laid down two bunts; one foul, one fair. Fowler rumbled into third while Gandy was out at first with a sacrifice.
Well worth it.
Brett Murray would then lift a ball into left-center field, deep enough to score Fowler from third as the ball was caught by left fielder Charlie Dillon. The tie was broken. The Jays led 3-2.
The crowd broke into an insatiable craze as Fowler crossed the plate to put the Jays ahead. A team of youth ballplayers broke into chants of "Let's Go Bluejays," accompanied by the rhythmic clapping that normally follows the small gesture of appreciation. Perhaps it was fuel added to the Bluejay fire, but it was a nice reminder that Omaha is purely a baseball town when something momentous begins to stir on the Kentucky Bluegrass.
The top of the seventh rolled around and Rollie Lacy's day was finished; enter Connor Miller. Georgetown's offense had sputtered and collapsed under the weight of the Bluejay defense and Miller was able to retire the side in order.
Fans at TD Ameritrade Park began to enamor themselves in a lusty panic, knowing that the levies were about to break. Matt Smith's pitch count was rising for the Hoyas and it was only a matter of time before the immense pressure the Bluejay baserunners offered was going to bend him into a shape that resembled less of a ballplayer and more of a shattered windshield on a 1991 Chrysler LeBaron.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kevin Connolly, who is known as 'Buntatron 2000' around these parts, managed to work a walk after succumbing to an 0-2 count. He immediately caught on to Smith's indifference to baserunners and took off for second without a moment to spare. The ball trickled away from the receiving end of Eric Webber's throw down to second, allowing Buntatron 2000 to wheel around to third base. With no outs, the Jays were primed for a big inning.
Michael Emodi lofted a shallow fly ball to Hoya centerfielder Beau Hall, forcing Buntatron 2000 to lay in wait in case Hall managed to corral the blooper, but he came up just short and allowed Buntatron 2000 to score and Emodi safe passage to second base. 4-2 Bluejays.
Danny Woodrow then squared to bunt - but Matt Smith fielded the ball cleanly and managed to throw out Emodi at third. Woodrow stole second - good for his second steal of the day - and watched as Nicky Lopez worked a walk to first base. Ryan Fitzgerald then chopped a ball to first but negated the double play, moved Woodrow and Lopez into scoring position, essentially swinging for a bunt and was out at first.
With two on and two out the Hoyas decided to turn things over to Jimmy Swad, which is an anagram for 'Sacrificial Lamb' with a 5+ ERA, and turned his attention to Reagan Fowler. Swad's very first pitch was high and outside, just past the reach of Webber, allowing Woodrow to score and Lopez to end up on third. 5-2 Bluejays.
Jimmy Swad's day would only get worse as he managed to get Fowler in a full count only to hit him on the leg. This set the stage for blog favorite Matt Gandy to deliver some damage of his own - damage that came in the form of a base hit to the left side to score Lopez and move Fowler into scoring position. 6-2 Bluejays. Will Bamesberger ended up flying out and ended the inning but the runs necessary to beat a team like Georgetown had been manufactured.
It was time for John 'the Holdman' Oltman to do what he does best: preserve the lead. He did just that, but made it a bit more dramatic for the fans on hand as he walked Kuzbel to start the inning. No matter, he set the remaining batters down in order.
The game was then handed to David Gerber in the top of the ninth. Gerber set the batters down in order.
Ballgame. Jays win 6-2 and improve to 31-9 on the year, dropping Georgetown to 23-25.