In our nightcap, we were treated to what the kids are calling a “pitcher’s duel.”
From Creighton we had the two seam aficionado Rollie Lacy, a 6’4 righty and graduated junior from Minnetrista, Minnesota.
For the Pirates of Seton Hall we had no-hitter aficionado Zach Prendergast, a 6’2 righty from Horsham, Pennsylvania.
Both received a slew of accolades for their performances this season. The two ended up on the first-team All-BIG EAST for being really quite good at what they do. Though they’re worlds apart in their approach, their pace, and their stuff, it was truly a marvel to see two of the best hurlers the conference has to offer in a championship setting.
In the first inning, it appeared that Lacy was bound to work a 1-2-3 inning until left fielder Riley Landuyt goofed up a can of corn flyball. Lacy would walk Matt Fortin on a full count pitch that looked awfully good, but was quickly bailed out by Bryce Only who cleanly fielded a grounder from Al Molina.
Zach Prendergast worked quickly in the early innings, setting down the first eight batters he faced. Creighton was aggressive, swinging early and often - even bunting with their leadoff hitter two innings in a row - and having limited to no success.
It’s in circumstances like these where you begin to peer endlessly into speculation about Creighton’s gameplan. I mean, Ed Servais called on power hitter and not-really-fast-guy Michael Emodi to slap down a leadoff bunt in the 2nd inning
Surely, after Prendergast’s last two lights out performances of the year, they’d find it difficult to find a hole in his pitching, right?
In the first two innings Prendergast threw just 13 pitches. 13!
Then he met Jason ‘All The Berries’ Allbery, who worked a full count and eventually singled up the middle. From then on, the Bluejay bats grew a steely veneer, exuding patience at the plate while Prendergast became flabbergasted by the increasing amount of time he spent on the mound.
Though the Jays didn’t score in the 3rd & 4th innings, they worked Prendergast tirelessly, forcing him to throw 42 pitches in those innings.
By the 5th, they broke him.
After Allbery walked to start the fifth, Clark Brinkman stepped to the dish and waited. He waited and waited, looking for the perfect pitch, waiting for Prendergast, who’d been damn near perfect, to make that mistake.
On the fourth pitch, Brinkman unloaded, sending a ball deep into the Creighton bullpen in left, finally getting the Pirate ace’s scoreless streak to fizzle and crumble.
The Jays couldn’t get anything else going in the inning, but they’d done all they needed to do.
In the top of the 6th, Seton Hall started making some noise and got something together against Lacy. Matt Toke started things off with a single, then moved to second on a ground out by Fortin. After an Al Molina strikeout, Mike Alescio shot a chopper to Luevano at short, who fielded it cleanly but rushed his throw, sailing it over Allbery’s head, caroming off the netting near the media well.
This was enough for Toke to make it home, scoring Seton Hall’s first run.
Creighton made no bones about answering back in the bottom half, starting with a 2-out single by Landuyt. Just four pitches later, Bryce Only catapulted a ball deep into the right center gap, rattling around under the wall pads, and giving the senior third baseman an RBI triple.
Through 7 incredible innings of work, Rollie Lacy worked in and out of jams, getting ahead of hitters in nearly every at bat. If he thought a player was a bit too comfortable in the box, he’d throw inside, forcing them to back out of the box and readjust. He was as electric as he’d been in his entire career, making it look easy as he got four batters to whiff on strike three. In all, he was his best self in the biggest moment.
With Prendergast out, the Jays relished in the moment of conquering the seemingly unconquerable. After a Parker Upton single in the bottom of the eighth, Riley Landuyt launched an absolutely laser over the head of left fielder Jackson Martin, the ball careening off the bullpen fence, which gave Upton ample time to score from first.
An insurance run.
Like they’d need it.
Ethan DeCaster worked two straight clean innings in the 8th & 9th, shutting down the Pirates handily.
Seton Hall will face St. John’s in the early game tomorrow afternoon at 2:30.
Creighton will get the hot hitting Musketeers in the nightcap at 6:30.