Whatever you thought of Creighton or Villanova or Butler before tonight can be forgotten as BIG EAST conference play finally kicked off today.
In a surprising turn of events, the Wildcats of Villanova beat Xavier in the most bizarre way imaginable, with Xavier’s ace Zac Lowther going 8 innings of no-hit ball, striking out 16 and putting out an unbelievable performance. In the 9th he walked the leadoff batter and was promptly pulled, with the no-no still in tact, to give way to shutdown closer Taylor Williams. Williams walked two batters and eventually gave up two consecutive singles to let Villanova, the worst RPI-ranked BIG EAST team, win over the reigning conference champion.
Butler then followed this insane performance by putting up 6 runs on the Pirates of Seton Hall, winning the game 6-2.
In the nightcap, the Bluejays of Creighton took on the Johnnies from St. John’s, and what resulted was an absolutely fantastic ballgame.
It was a little chilly and sparsely attended baseball game, yet between Creighton’s Rollie Lacy and St. John’s Sean Mooney, a gem of a pitcher’s duel commenced.
The Bluejays were able to rough up Mooney a bit in the first, with Clark Brinkman and Isaac Collins hitting back-to-back singles to start the bottom half of the inning. After a Tommy Luevano strike out and a total goof by Michael Emodi - got called for batter interference after Collins tried to steal second - Riley Landuyt hit an infield single to the right side and scored Brinkman. Will Robertson followed this up with a single of his own, scoring Collins, and just like that the underdog Jays were up 2-0 on the 14th ranked Johnnies from Queens.
St. John’s finally tacked on a run in the fourth, with Josh Shaw singling up the middle with two outs, and eventually making his way home after two more singles by Troy Dixon and Tony Brocato. As the throw home made its way in an attempt to cut down Shaw, Brocato and Dixon threatened to take an extra base yet were caught with their pants around their ankles and dicks swinging to and fro as Lacy properly backed up his catcher and threw out the confused and stranded Brocato on first.
Within this same time, Sean Mooney finally settled into a groove and pitched a gem. After the first he’d allow just one baserunner from the 2nd through the 6th, mowing down batters left and right, and forcing the Jays into uncomfortable situations. He’d go 7 strong with just the two early earned runs tacked onto his statsheet. He was masterful and unforgiving.
That one baserunner? Bluejay slugger Michael Emodi, who drew a walk.
In the top of the 7th Troy Dixon led off with a single and was joined on the basepaths by Tony Brocato, who acquired a meat unit just two pitches later. Robbie Knightes would bunt the two into scoring position, and just a sac-fly by Jamie Galazin would tie the game up.
Creighton had a shot to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Riley Landuyt led things off with a single to the left side and was promptly replaced by Ben ‘Meat Locker’ Reznicek. After Will Robertson goofed up two bunt attempts, putting him in an 0-2 hole and eventually struck out, Bryce Only hit a deep fly ball into center, deep enough for the Meat Locker to tag up, but not deep enough for a double or a dinger or a fucking way to end this game. With two outs and the Meat Locker on 3rd, Jason Allbery stepped to the dish and delivered a sinking line drive to center, only for Jamie Galazin to step up and make the catch.
2-2. Extra innings.
Ethan DeCaster was nothing short of brilliant in his 6 innings of work. With the 21 batters he faced he accrued 3 fly outs, 10 ground outs, 5 strike outs, and one double play on 69 pitches. St. John’s was unable to get past his fierce demeanor accompanied by his sport goggles, swinging and hoping and praying but just coming up short on any attempt to gain ground on the basepaths.
In the bottom of the 10th, something amazing happened.
Something I never thought I’d live to see.
Something so incredible, so rare, so sensational that I almost jumped out of my press box window to my death, knowing that the true beauty of the moment will never be eclipsed.
With a runner on first and two outs, Bluejay short stop Thomas Luevano stepped to the plate. If you don’t know anything about Luevano, good for you, but a little refresher: grand maestro of the infield, outfield, pitcher’s mound, where ever, with a little pop and a lot of swagger.
Luevano took the first pitch, a strike.
On the very next pitch, what appeared to be a high fastball, Luevano squared his shoulders and showed bunt late.
He made contact.
2 outs. Bottom of the 10th.
Luevano dropped down a beauty. I’m telling you, this thing was magic. A pure bunt, squibbed off the barrel down the third base line. No one saw it coming, and as the St. John’s pitcher picked it and tossed it to first, just as Luevano crossed the bag, I knew it was something incredible.
Unfortunately, Michael Emodi would ground out to third, leaving Luevano stranded on the basepaths.
Regardless, it was magical. Here it is, in video form:
Then, from there until the 14th, nary a run was scored.
In the top of the 14th, St. John’s managed to get to Dave Gerber early, with Troy Dixon getting a one out base hit. The line kept moving for the Johnnies as Tony Brocato and Robbie Knightes each singled; on Knightes’ single to left field, where Jason Allbery was now shifted to, Allbery booted the ball and sent it skittering away. This allowed Brocato, who was being held up at third, to be sent home. He scored, and thus the Johnnies usurped the lead for the final time.
Allbery and Parker Upton failed to get on base while Clark Brinkman acquired first on a single, but was stranded there after Isaac Collins grounded out to first.
The Johnnies (22-3) improved to 1-0 in conference play while Creighton (8-16) dropped to 0-1. The two will meet again tomorrow night at 6:30 in Omaha.