Ed Servais hopes his Creighton baseball team can get a few more hits and make a few more pitches and plays in the second series of the season.
The one thing he absolutely wants to see from the Bluejays is more energy and emotion than they displayed in getting swept in last weekend's season-opening series at Arkansas-Little Rock.
“Normally, going into the first week of the season, I've found myself having to calm teams down in the past,” Servais said. “It was just the opposite for us last week. For some reason, we didn't play with the energy that we need to as a program.
“It's tough on a team when you're going inside one day and outside the next in the preseason. Most times, though, guys are going to be excited for the season to open. That just wasn't the case last week.”
The Bluejays will try to rebound from their lost weekend in a three-game series against Minnesota. The games, beginning with Friday's noon opener, will be played at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.
Minnesota opened its season by sweeping a three-game series from Northern Illinois. The Golden Gophers were not picked to finish in the top six in the Big Ten — the conference only announces six teams in its preseason poll.
Creighton, the preseason pick to win the Big East, lost by scores of 5-1, 7-4 and 7-1. The Bluejays hit .204 in the three games.
“Our inability to get two-out base hits really put a lot of pressure on us,” Servais said. “We scored one run on a two-out hit and, by the end of the series, I started to sense that some of our guys were trying to do a little too much when they were at the plate.
“Things kind of snowballed on us a little. Fortunately, we had a couple of good practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I think we got it across to the guys that if they stay within themselves, they'll produce. A lot of hitting goes on in between the ears, and we got to where we were grinding too much.”
Despite the losses, Servais said he saw some positives the Bluejays can build on. Taylor Elman gave Creighton a solid start in the opener, allowing just one earned run in five innings.
Most of the pitchers Creighton used out of the bullpen performed well, Servais said.
“I thought the bullpen did what we thought it would,” he said. “We need to find a way to get some offense, and we had a few defensive breakdowns that hurt us. But it's a little early to panic. We just need to keep working and keep getting better.”
Servais said Elman will start Friday's opening game, with Tommy Strunc the probable starter on Saturday. Servais said he'll probably wait until Sunday before deciding who will start the third game.
Strunc's wildness cost him against Little Rock. He walked five batters and threw a wild pitch in allowing six runs in 12⁄3 innings of the 7-4 loss. Austin Groth also struggled in the finale, allowing eight hits and six runs in 21⁄3 innings.
“We need those guys to pitch like they're capable of pitching,” Servais said. “What Taylor did in the first game was throw strikes, pitch with poise and allow us to get into that game.
“The one thing that hurt us in all three games was we got behind right away. That kept us from doing some of the things we like to do offensively. We did not have one bunt the entire weekend and just one hit-and-run. We have a style of play, and we have to make sure we can play that way.”