The prospect of playing eight games in 11 days undoubtedly has Creighton’s baseball team excited about its lengthy spring-break trip.
But coach Ed Servais also is looking forward to one of the days in which no games are scheduled in order for his team to get in some much-needed outdoor practice.
“It will be nice to get our hitters and infielders on a field where they don’t have to dodge snow banks,’’ Servais said. “We really haven’t had that opportunity so far.’’
Enough snow was cleared off the infield at the CU Sports Complex to allow the Bluejays to get outside a couple of times before they opened the season two weeks ago. Creighton didn’t have an opportunity to workout on the field prior to any of its first four games.
“We haven’t been able to hit on a field or get any pregame work in,’’ Servais said. “We need to do that, and we’ll have that chance at least one of the days we’re in Texas.
“I can see us making some additional improvement if we can get on a field where we’re not dodging obstacles. It’s been frustrating but I’m hopeful we can get some work in before some of the games we’ll play on the trip.’’
Creighton, 3-1 after the opening two weeks of the season, begins its trip with four games at Sam Houston State’s Bearkat Invitational. The Bluejays will face will play a doubleheader today, facing Northern Colorado at 1:30 p.m. before playing the host school at 6 p.m.
They’ll play Northern Colorado again Saturday at 1:30 p.m. before facing the Bearkats Sunday at 6:30. Creighton also will play at Texas Arlington on Wednesday before heading to Minnesota for three games at the Metrodome Classic.
Creighton is coming off a split of games last week against Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin. The Bluejays blew a one-run, ninth-inning lead in allowing Northwestern to score three times in an 8-7 victory. They came back the next day to score twice in the ninth before pushing across the winning run in the 10th in a 9-8 win over Stephen F. Austin.
Serevais said he was encouraged by how his team bounced back after losing to Northwestern State.
“I was pleased by how we responded,’’ he said. “Sometimes, when you let one slip away as we did, there’s a carryover to the next game. We talked about that a lot, how we can’t let those things linger. We came out the next day and scored three runs in the first inning. That’s what we wanted to see.’’
Creighton figures to get a look at some of its younger pitchers on the trip, as well as trying to add to the workloads of starters Mike Nihsen and Greg Hellhake. Both are coming off injuries that held them out of fall practice. Nihsen threw one inning the opening week and two innings in his start against Stephen F. Austin.
Hellhake worked his first inning of the season against Stephen F. Austin, throwing seven pitches in getting three outs.
“We hope to get both those guys a little more work,’’ Servais said. “I’d also like to see us get our bullpen situation solidified. We feel we have the right guys out there but we would like to get their roles defined by the time we come back from the Metrodome.’’
Seniors Bob Lackovic and Matt Patterson and junior Jack VanLeur are candidates for the closer role. Each pitched in that role last season.
“We’ve jumped around a little bit this season,’’ Servais said. “It’s important to get an idea who’s best for what spots when we get to the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. In the past, our teams have usually taken off when we get those roles defined.’’
Notes: Jonas Dufek (1-0, 4.15 ERA) and Brandon Koenigstein (0-0, 4.82) will pitch today’s games but Servais is uncertain who will start the weekend games. He said freshmen Ty Blach and Nick Musec and sophomore Gage Daniels are candidates to start either the Sunday game or the midweek game at Texas-Arlington . . . Second baseman Mike Mutcheson continues to battle back problems. “It’s frustrating because one day he’s fine and the next, he’s stiff and can’t do anything,’’ Servais said, referring to the junior-college transfer who was penciled in to be a starter. “We’re getting to the point where we might have to make a decision about whether he can help us or not this season.’’