While yesterday was kid’s day, today was Military Appreciation Night at TD Ameritrade Park. During pre-game the throngs of founds, hovering around 9,000, were treated to a fly over, a trio of parachutists, an acoustic rendition of our national anthem, and a parade of vets and their families making their way around the warning track to be honored. In left center a giant American flag, hoisted by two fire truck ladders in the parking lot, violently waved with the aid of a warm southern wind.
With the King of Anthills, better known as Jeff Albrecht, starting in what will be his last career regular season game at TD Ameritrade Park we were slated to see an unforgettable performance by the southpaw senior from Creighton Prep.
Instead, we saw dongs and doubles galore, as McNeese State hung a two run shot in the second, then compiled 4 doubles in the 4th to put up a 5 slot on our hero, our king, our savior.
It wasn’t that the King wasn’t effective, he just happens to live in the strike zone. That’s his forte, his bread and butter. When facing a contact-heavy team with power that slaps base hits to all fields, he becomes pretty ineffective. He’s usually keen on getting hitters off balance, using the entire strike zone, but getting ahead early in the count. In that 3-run 4th McNeese got three of their four doubles within the first three pitches, two of those coming on a 0-0 or 0-1 count.
Within this start from the King came two unbelievable catches by Bluejay center fielder Clark Brinkman. The sophomore, with wheels like a hungry panther on the hunt, managed to make these two webgems in the gaps in the early going:
a 5-0 deficit can feel hopeless. A 5-0 deficit when you’ve scored 1 run in your past two games can feel like a bottomless pit of despair. I fully expected these Jays to curl into the fetal position, praying for a nice night of sleep and a day off, but instead they realized that baseball is a game that rewards patience.
In the bottom half of that 3-run fourth, Creighton clawed their way out of the grave they’d dug and began a two out rally. The rally consisted of four consecutive singles from Allbery, Only, Upton, and Landuyt.
This gave Creighton two runs in the inning, a boost and a bit of a spark, a hit of confidence when they were beginning to run dry.
In the bottom of the 6th the Jays went back to work, this time with a meat unit to Parker Upton to get things cooking. Upton would advance to second on a ground out by Only, then was brought home on a seeing eye single that bounced high off the pitcher’s mound by Landuyt, with the center fielder’s throw getting cut off by the pitcher. Landuyt has been in a bit of a slump lately, so for him to get a couple of RBI’s is quite the pick-me-up.
Ryan Tapani, the guy who got shelled against Nebraska, then threw a gem against UNO, came out to pitch in the seventh inning. He’s been a bit enigmatic throughout the year, having ups and downs, but his performance in the 7th, 8th, & 9th were nothing short of dominant.
Allowing two base hits over the three innings, Tapani also compiled five strike outs, two ground outs (one of which was a comebacker right to him), while picking up an assist on an Emodi caught stealing in the 7th.
Though the Jays were able to collect 8 hits on the night, which seems like a minor miracle in itself, they weren’t able to put together another rally past the 6th. This ultimately led to the loss, even though Tapani’s performance kept the Cowboys at shore.
Creighton falls to 22-21 on the year. The series finale is tomorrow at 1pm which will bring the unenviable task of staving off a .500 record.