Creighton coach Ed Servais had plenty of questions about his baseball team when the Bluejays opened the season three weeks ago.
For starters, Servais was concerned how Creighton would adjust to having an entirely new starting rotation. Based on what he’s seen in the first six games, Servais is feeling a little more comfortable about the front end of the rotation.
“We really didn’t know what to expect going in, but I definitely feel good about two of our three starters,” Servais said. “Nick Musec and Tommy Strunc have pitched well.
“We still have to find a third guy, but I think that’s something we can get settled over the next 10 days or so before we begin conference play.”
Musec, a senior from St. Charles, Mo., with limited experience, is 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA over 8 2⁄3 innings in his first two starts. Strunc, a redshirt freshman from Highlands Ranch, Colo., is 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA but is limiting opposing hitters to a .222 average.
Strunc will start Friday against Arkansas-Little Rock in Creighton’s opening game of the Riverview Inn Classic at Clarksville, Tenn. Musec, one of several Creighton players who missed practice time this week because of illness, will pitch Saturday against Austin Peay, the tournament’s host team.
Servais said he is uncertain whether Matt Warren or Taylor Elman will start Sunday’s game against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“We’ll get a chance to see Milwaukee the first two days, and we’ll go with the one that we think matches up best against them,” Servais said. “The other will start our game Tuesday at Southeast Missouri.”
The Bluejays will play at Southeast Missouri State before returning to Omaha to open their home season Thursday against North Dakota. Creighton also is expected to play a three-game series the following weekend against Pacific.
Creighton is 4-2 after its first two weeks of competition. Four games were wiped out when they had to drop out of a tournament at Lamar on Feb. 22-24 because of travel complications caused by a winter snowstorm.
After sweeping Dallas Baptist to open the season, Creighton went 1-2 last week against Brigham Young.
“One of our problems right now is that our young pitchers are doing what young pitchers do,” Servais said. “They’ll have a good outing and follow it up with a mediocre one.
“We still need to get our bullpen in order. Hopefully that’s something we can get sorted out this week.”
While some of Creighton’s young pitchers have struggled, Musec has pitched well in his new role as the team’s No. 1 starter. The right-hander’s previous 27 appearances over three seasons had come either in relief or as an occasional midweek starter.
“Nick is a guy that has waited his turn, and he’s pitching now like the veteran he is,” Servais said. “He’s had to be patient, and that’s not always easy to do. He was sick most of his first season with mono, and it took him awhile to get a hold of our system.”
Musec redshirted as a freshman in 2009, and he could have left the program after last season as he received his undergraduate degree. Instead, he decided to return as a graduate student.
“We’re fortunate that he made the decision to come back,” Servais said.
Creighton also is getting solid efforts from some of its veteran position players as the Bluejays are hitting .319 after six games. Shortstop Alex Staehely and center fielder Mike Gerber are hitting .429 and .391, respectively, after struggling at the plate most of last season.
Overall, seven players who have started at least three games are hitting .333, with third baseman Federico Castignini at .296. Catcher Kevin Lamb, a junior college transfer who has started four games, leads the team with a .467 average.
“He’s done a lot of good things so far,” Servais said. “He’s provided us with more offense than we anticipated, but we all understand the most important thing is how he handles things defensively.
“He’s done a good job behind the plate, and that’s nice to see. Kevin is a hard-working kid, and it’s nice to see him rewarded for that work in these first six games.”
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