Every year Creighton University hosts a Military Night at TD Ameritrade Park to honor those who decided to sacrifice their lives to defend this magnificent and somewhat flawed country. It's a night that carries more meaning than the baseball game itself allowing those in attendance a brief pause to remember those brave souls who occupied enemy territory to further America's ideals.
There was country music, flags, parachutists, a giant ribbon painted in the grass behind homeplate, and countless ceremonies honoring military members and families throughout the night. The sacrifices those who belong in the military can never really be paid forward (except for a VA system that works, a decent job market to enter, and proper care for families while on leave, to name a few things) by us normal folk, but having nights like these feels like a straight forward attempt to do so: it's a message that shoots straight to honor them, their families, and their colleagues (is that the right word here?).
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The game itself took place on a bizarrely smoky night in Omaha. There are raging fires occurring to the north in Canada and Minnesota that have traveled gallantly to the middle of America, and they just so happened to be passing through Omaha. If I get emphysema I'm going to sue the air I breathe for all its molecular riches in the highest court known to man: the People's Court.
The King of Anthills has a knack for drama. I've overheard imaginary conversations that he enjoys watching TNT for all the drama it brings to the medium of television. So, naturally, the King of Anthills walked the first batter of the game. The crowd stirred, worrying about his control. "Get on the edge of your seat folks," the King of Anthills pondered, "because Law & Order is coming up next. Law being my fastball, order being my curveball, of course." He proceeded to strike out the next batter, induce a flyout to Brett Murray, and let Michael Emodi work his magic behind the plate as he gunned down Beau Hall on an attempted steal.
With the drama being played up, the King of Anthills realized that he had the crowd of 8,000+ eating out of the palm of his hand. With the Creighton offense refusing to score runs in the bottom of the first, the King went back out to tease the fans yet again, this time allowing each batter to lift a ball into the outfield. With each 'ping' of the bat the crowd gasped in fear; luckily, Brett Murray and Kevin 'Buntatron 2000' Connolly were on their game and navigated the outfield like a drop of liquid rolling down a window pane.
The bottom of the second featured a wealth of scoring from the Bluejays in the amount of: 1 run. To start things off, Reagan Fowler walked - his OBP growing ever higher from the paltry .331 it started at before the game. Matt Gandy then singled to right field. Brett Murray approached the dish and lifted a ball into center field, deep enough for the lightning quick Reagan Fowler to tag from second and make it to third safely. Harrison Crawford then poked a grounder to the left side and the Hoyas attempted to turn a double play but were too slow on the flip and throw, allowing Fowler to score and Crawford safe passage to first. That was all the Jays could muster in the inning, but their lead sat firmly at 1-0.
The King of Anthills returned to his mound in the top of the third lusting after a few more dramatic bits to this game. Charlie Dillon dug in and sliced one just barely fair down the right field line, I'm taking just a matter of centimeters from this puppy being foul, and Dillon landed on second base safely. The King's heart was pounding; the tying run was in scoring position with no outs and the tail end of the lineup somersaulting into the batter's box. This was his moment. The King managed to get the next three batters out with a groundout to third base, a swinging strike out, and a fly out to Buntatron 2000. The crowd was insatiable, practically begging their hearts to stop racing from all the excitement, but this nervousness from the spectators only fueled the King.
The Creighton offense decided to remain neutral in the bottom of the third and did not score any runs. Nicky Lopez did manage a base hit, but that was the peak of their offensive prowess.
The King of Anthills sauntered out to the mound, looking devilishly enamored with his playing to the crowd thus far. He'd reached the fourth inning with no more than a base hit and he was prepared to get the crowd in a brief, cool sweat. To lead things off he allowed the Hoya designated hitter Jake Kuzbel to single to right field. Next, Georgetown tried to pull a fast one by sacrifice bunting Kuzbel over. The King was loving this and fielded the bunted ball cleanly and underhand tossed it to first base.
Runner in scoring position. Perfect.
This played right into the King's fiddle, as he struck out Bialkowski on a delicious curveball that will haunt Bialkowski for the remainder of his waking days:
The next play featured the defensive prowess by third baseman Harrison Crawford, who was feeding off of the exuberant Royalty of the King. The play can be seen below:
Magnificent. Simply magnificent.
The King was toying with the Hoya hitters like a professional bowler would play up a 7-10 split before chugging a 20oz glass of Coors Light and knocking both pins over by sliding head first down the lane, arms out like he was a bird soaring over the smoky mountains of West Virginia.
The Creighton offense would begin churning again in the bottom of the fourth with a Matt Gandy base hit with one out. The super-ultra-mega fast Gandy would then proceed to steal second, followed by a swinging bunt by Brett Murray, who proceeded to first safely with Gandy arriving at third without any complications. Gandy was then singled home by Harrison Crawford and the Bluejay lead swelled to 2-0. That was all the offense could muster for the inning.
The King of Anthills craved a quick inning so he proceeded to shut down the Hoyas in order in the top of the fifth. First, he allowed Reagan Fowler to scoop up a groundball and touch first base with his foot. Next, the King struck out Charlie Dillon with some nasty, ridiculous shit that I can't even describe with words. For the third and final out he managed to get Eric Webber to ground out to Ryan Fitzgerald. The King was feeling it.
The bottom of the fifth featured relative indifference from the Bluejay batters. They were in awe of the King and sought to get him back on his mound as soon as possible.
The King began the sixth with a great deal of fanfare. Military night brings about your most casual fans and they were falling deeply in love with the tenuous game that the King was playing. First, there was Weisenberg's swing and a miss strikeout on just four pitches. The King wanted some drama so he walked Beau Hall, only to record two consecutive outs with the next two batters.
The bottom of the sixth, again, revealed the offensive indifference while the King was on the mound, featuring three straight outs.
The top of the seventh blew into the stadium faster than usual, and the King was still standing confidently on the mound with the presence of an angry lion in a butcher shop. He let Bialkowski line out to Woodrow for the first out.
The next two outs offered us a brief look into the power that the King wields at any given moment. First, the King fielded a comeback to the mound, a ball that bounded off his glove that he later recovered and threw a dart to first base. On the following play this happened:
The crowd was his. Completely. Jeff Albrecht threw 7 innings, striking out five, walking two, teasing 8,000+, destroying the will of Georgetown's batters with his curveball, and allowed just two hits. I don't know what a perfect game is - I've never seen a baseball game before and know nothing of the rules - but this was about as perfect of a game that I've ever seen. The King of Anthills conquered the Hoyas with command and the pursuit of dominance; dominance he attained rather quickly. There have been some gems spun on this field, so they say, but this one will forever go on as the best in my book. When your first born son asks you, "what was your greatest moment of euphoria?" you must not skip a beat and tell him the lavish tale of the King of Anthill's incredible shutout against the Georgetown Hoyas. Your son will be a better person because of it and he, too, may raise a royal member of the Anthill clan.
Nick Highberger replaced the King in the top of the eighth. He shut down the Hoyas with the help of the phenomenal defense behind him.
One thing that I've failed to mention with all this romantic text about the King of Anthills is the phenomenal play of the defense. There were plays that no other BIG EAST team would make that the Jays pulled off as seemingly routine. There were moments when Reagan Fowler would have to stretch to make a play, and he did so every time. The defense was magnificent and they helped propel the King to a momentous start.
The bottom of the eighth featured a strange bit of consequence for Georgetown pitcher Simon Mathews. As his pitch count began to rise higher and higher it appeared that the Bluejay's patience increased as well. This left Georgetown head coach Pete Wilk in a bizarre situation where he was losing his patience but his blood pressure was skyrocketing. Nicky Lopez started things off with a single, followed by a single to the second baseman by Ryan Fitzgerald. Lopez, on his way to second, was accosted by the second baseman - who tried to tag him out, but whiffed as Lopez utilized his shiftiness. Pitcher Simon Mathews was clearly upset Lopez wasn't called out, but Pete Wilk was even more pissed off that he was missing a re-run episode of Gunsmoke, so he went and argued the call. About 10 steps outside of the dugout the umpire chased him and Wilk gladly returned to the comfy confines of TD Ameritrade Park where he could watch his program in peace.
(Not mentioned was a non-play, where Simon Mathews was complaining about the call with his infielders huddled around second base, where Nicky Lopez left second to take an unoccupied third base. It was hilarious and slick, truly the most comical moment in the evening.)
Reagan Fowler then singled, scoring Lopez. 3-0 Jays.
Simon Mathew's day was over at 108 pitches.
Matt Gandy would then single home Ryan Fitzgerald. 4-0 Jays.
Nick Highberger would re-enter the game in the 9th and close out the Hoya attack.
Jays win 4-0, Pete Wilk will have to sit tomorrow out, and Creighton improves to 32-9 while Georgetown gets pushed back to 23-26.