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BASEBALL

Creighton and UNO baseball are motivated but a 'little tired' entering series finale

A day after challenging his ballclub to find a spark, Creighton’s coach settled on an unwelcome yet inevitable conclusion as he watched his players try to respond.

The Jays are a little tired, coach Ed Servais said.

A full regular season will do that to a college baseball team. CU’s been at it for three months. And although Servais thought his guys brought the right attitude to Sunday’s grueling series-finale win over St. John’s, he indicated that they weren’t at their peak performance level.

But this end-of-season impediment isn’t unique to Creighton. Everyone’s battling fatigue now. It’s up to CU’s squad to figure out how to get reinvigorated before it’s too late.

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“We’ve got to do something the next couple of days to get that corrected,” Servais said after Sunday’s game. “These players know what’s at stake. They’re trying to grind through things.”

The Jays are still in the Big East title hunt with three conference games left and they still have a strong case for an NCAA regional at-large berth (RPI No. 23).

They just don’t have time to rest.

Creighton (31-11) hosts UNO Tuesday for an 11 a.m. game at TD Ameritrade Park. Then CU finishes its regular season with a three-game set starting Thursday against last-place Villanova — the Jays would win a Big East title if they sweep.

That’s four games in five days. The league tournament, hosted by Xavier, begins May 24.

“We want to gather some momentum going into Cincinnati,” Servais said. “That’s what we told the team right after the game (Sunday). We want to get clicking.”

CU NU base

UNO's Max Gamm tries to tag Creighton's Jason Allbery as he slides into second for a double in the second game of their series.

The Mavs (27-18-1) have similar aspirations.

But they’re 3-8 during their past 11 games — they’ve averaged just 2.5 runs per contest over that stretch, recording a .189 team batting average.

They’ve lost three straight weekend series. Their lead in the Summit League standings, once at five games back in April, is now just a 1½-game advantage. UNO hosts Oral Roberts to end the regular season.

So the Jays expect to see a motivated opponent Tuesday. CU’s players will have to match that urgency — which is what they’ve done lately.

Even though Creighton may be a little weary, it’s still won six of its past seven games.

“We’ve been on a hot streak and we know we’re one of the top teams in the country,” sophomore catcher David Vilches said. “But we’re taking one game at a time. We’ll see how it plays out.”

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