When the season began just a couple of months ago it was clear that the Jays had a killer pitching staff but a very green offense. When their shutdown closer had an 0-4 record and all three of their weekend starters had ERAs over 3, while the offense couldn’t score a lick and tried to bunt and hang dong to win, it was evident that this was going to be a very long and trying year.
With time, the offense began to round itself out and put up some run, the pitching staff returned to normal, and the back end of the bullpen regained their shutdown status, thus making Creighton, despite their record, a formidable opponent.
St. John’s had nearly every position player from last year return but received a slate of brand new pitchers. With these additions it was evident that they’d mash the ball but unclear if they could keep runners off the basepaths. The Johnnies managed to score and pitch extraordinarily well in games, leading to their 23-4 record while shocking the college baseball world.
The meeting of these two teams this weekend offered a finite representation of these ideals with the St. John’s pitching staff failing to go deep into games while the three Creighton starters were absolutely dynamite.
The difference? The Bluejay offense got hot at a highly opportunistic time.
After ‘Chief’ Keith Rogalla managed a 1-2-3 top of the first, Creighton’s offense got going early, with Clark Brinkman drawing a walk to open the bottom of the first, eventually ending up on third after a single up the middle by Isaac Collins, and scoring on a Tommy Luevano base hit.
Then a triple play happened so what the fuck, right? The two base runners were off on the pitch on a hit & run that turned into a liner to left. With two simple throws, three outs were recorded, and the Bluejay threat was neutralized.
It didn’t really matter.
The Jays struck again in the bottom of the second. What happened in this half inning would take the boys in blue the distance, requiring no further offense for the rest of the afternoon.
Michael Emodi would start the offense off with a single up the middle. Will Robertson followed up with a single of his own. Bryce Only kept things moving with yet another base hit.
Bottom of the second.
On a 1-0 pitch, Parker Upton dinked a swinging bunt back to the pitcher. This would bring in a run, but the St. John’s second baseman forgot to rotate over and cover first and arrived at the bag way late, but the pitcher panicked and threw it anyways, sending the ball bounding into right field.
Emodi and Robertson would score, with Upton and Only at 2nd & 3rd.
Still no outs.
Jason Allbery would step to the dish and deliver an RBI ground out. Clark Brinkman would ground out to a fielder’s choice and score a run as well.
St. John’s would get one lousy run on 5 hits, the single run coming in the top of the 6th, as they couldn’t get any reasonable contact against Chief Keith.
Speaking of our boy from the ‘burbs of Chicago, Chief Keith pitched an absolute gem. It was the cherry on top of a fantastic evening for the Bluejay starting staff, with each starter going 6+ and doing to the Johnnies what no team had done all year long.
Rogalla was magical. Fearless as usual with a his awkward swagger, he pounded the strike zone and got hitters to swing early and often. It was, without a doubt, the best performance of his college career. Mind you, St. John’s is in the top 10 nationally in pretty much every offensive category, so to watch Chief Keith do what he did was astounding, especially for all 9 innings. He used his ultra competitive emotions to blow past batters, sending the Johnnies into a depressive and infantile state, while maintaining an economical pitch count.
Creighton improves to 2-1 in conference play while St. John’s drops to 1-2.
The Bluejays will take on South Dakota State on Tuesday night in Omaha while St. John’s will take on Albany at the Jack at 3pm, also on Tuesday.