It was cold. Rainy. Wet. Windy.
It was Nebraska in
early March late April.
It was a Xavier dong in the late innings to topple Creighton, to end their winning streak, to win triumphantly in what will likely be the only game of the series.
This story has been told before. It’s been told more times than I can seemingly count on one hand or the other. No matter how good or bad Creighton is, they always seem to acquire a lead at some point against the Musketeers.
The Musketeers always seem to win late, despite the deficit.
In what was a bizarre start for Rollie Lacy, the junior righty managed 6 innings of 1-hit ball, yet walked six and gave out two meat units on the night. He had 1-2-3 innings in his first and last inning of work, yet everything in between was a muddled mess of pitching mistakes. Throughout the duration he still managed to strike out 8 - three of those coming on the final batter of the inning - on 124 pitches.
Zac Lowther had an equally bizarre outing, including a pretty sad attempt at a foul ball just 40 or so feet away from the mound, bounding to catch a weak flair, yet seemingly tripping over the foul line only to whiff at the attempt. It was glorious in its hilarity, yet he entered his own twilight zone in efficiency tonight, going 6 innings of 2 hit ball, walking 5, striking out 6, while allowing a single earned run on 106 pitches.
Both pitchers ended their evenings in the 7th inning.
Creighton managed to score a run in the fourth when Riley Landuyt walked, then made it to second on a wild pitch, then scored when Bryce Only slapped a chopper to Rylan Bannon, who fielded the ball bare handed but made a wild throw to first base.
In what felt like an excruciating game to watch considering the weather and the plethora of baserunners who never came around to score, the score remained at 1-0 until the 8th inning.
If you’ve been lucky enough to watch a BIG EAST baseball game this year (I highly recommend it, it’s the peak of entertainment - seriously, I’ve never quite figured out why the game is so enticing betwixt these programs but it’s a fantastic product that’s run exorbitantly well) you’ll know that the umpiring can sometimes be a bit problematic.
On both sides of the coin, the strike zone would go from the size of a dime to the size of a $1,200 dining room table. Its inconsistencies were bizarre to watch, and I understand that the conference may have its troubles getting good umpires in Omaha, but sheesh. There were multiple blown calls on the field, a weird balk call early on in the game, and the aforementioned strike zone. It was constant and persistent throughout.
In the 8th, with Ethan DeCaster pitching for the Bluejays, Xavier managed to load the bases with one out. Xavier’s 9-hole hitter Matt Fallon then fell into the oft used trap of grounding out to short, yet when Isaac Collins made the turn to complete the double play, Fallon was called safe. He looked out by a step in real time.
Upon further review, on the replay, an observer’s suspicions were correct that, although it was pretty bang-bang, he was out. Alas, a run scored, and the game was knotted at 1.
The Bluejays went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth, and to start the 9th they deployed lock down closer Dave Gerber. Gerber has a bit of a history with the Musketeers as they seemingly hit him at will.
Enter: Rylan Bannon.
With one out in the top of the 9th, Bannon smoked a no doubt dongshot to deep left center field on a 1-0 count.
The world turns, Rylan Bannon hangs clutch dongs, and Xavier upends Creighton late in games. These things are certainties at this point. We know them dearly. None of what transpired tonight was all that shocking. It’s hard to get too excited about a Bannon dong because he does it so often. It’s even more difficult to get too excited when Xavier beats Creighton because, without fail, they’ll triumph in the end.
What will likely be the only game of the series, because of rain forecasted for the remainder of the weekend, I’ll be disappointed that these two teams will not play one another again this weekend.
Xavier improves to 25-18 on the year and 7-3 in conference play.
Creighton, winners of 11 straight, finally lose and drop to 19-17 on the year and 8-2 in conference play.
We’ll see you soon!