Photo courtesy of goxavier.com | Chris Givin had five hits and five RBIs in the series vs. Creighton.
Baseball is an extremely finnicky sport. One day, a team can go out and lay an egg on one of those afternoons where the coach says after, “Shake it off and look forward to tomorrow.”
The next day, the script can be completely flipped and a team that was dominated only a short time before can put its foot down for a win.
Such was the case this past weekend at Hayden Field between Xavier and the Creighton Blue Jays.
On the first pitch of the weekend Friday afternoon, Creighton’s lead-off batter Clark Brinkman smacked a home run over the left field fence.
That set a precedent for what was to come. Brinkman’s home run was one of eight total round-trippers that the Blue Jays hit on Friday.
They made use of Hayden Field’s shorter fences to plate a total of 24 runs en route to a 24-8 victory.
Xavier’s pitching staff, already depleted because of injuries, was busy in game one.
The Musketeers had to use six different pitchers to get through the game. With two tilts left in the series, there were questions as to who would appear throughout the next two days.
Saturday afternoon, senior Damien Richard was scheduled to start on the bump for Xavier. Then, after throwing his bullpen session before the game, he made the decision not to start because of an injury.
The injury bug claimed another victim, and the Musketeers had to turn to sophomore infielder Conor Grammes to make a spot start. He gave the Musketeers a career-high three innings and only allowed one run before he was pulled in favor of Nick Zwack.
The freshman churned out six solid innings, but Creighton hit him around for six runs and took Saturday’s game by a final of 7-3. Xavier left 13 men on base in the game.
“(Saturday) was a day that we had some opportunities and we just didn’t cash those opportunities in,” head coach Billy O’Conner said.
Needing a win to not dig itself in too deep of a hole in the Big East standings, Xavier gave the ball to freshman Allbry Major, who started Sunday’s series finale. Needless to say, Major delivered in the clutch. Xavier rode him as long as it could, and when all was said and done, he had thrown more than 110 pitches in seven full innings while allowing only four runs and striking out nine. This was the performance on the mound out of a starting pitcher Xavier desperately needed.
“Allbry was unbelievable today. He got hit around a little bit, but he just kept competing,” O’Conner said.
Offensively, Xavier scored first to set the tone, and even when Creighton tied it early and made it close late, the Musketeers responded.
Freshman Ryan Altenberger was 3-3 with two doubles, sophomore Natale Monastra had a home run, junior Chris Givin had a two-run triple and sophomore Andrew Sexton delivered an enormous bunt on a squeeze play late in the game to seal the victory. Xavier went on to win by a final of 12-8.
The conference season is now halfway complete, and Xavier is 3-6 in the Big East. Only the top four teams make the Big East tournament, and the Musketeers are half a game behind the fourth-place Blue Jays, who have a 3-5 record.
“I told them before the game today that man, today is (the) Big East championship…we’ve got to treat every game like it is a Big East championship…it was like a Big East championship atmosphere for us,” O’Conner said.
Xavier has a huge opportunity at home this coming weekend against a St. John’s team that is currently undefeated in conference play. It is coming off a series sweep against Georgetown.
The three-game swing against the Red Storm is set to begin at 3 p.m. on Friday followed by a 1 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. The final game of the series is scheduled for a noon start time on Sunday.
By: Paul Fristchner ~Staff Writer~