First things first.
That will be Ed Servais’ message to his Creighton baseball team before the Bluejays take the field at 6 p.m. Friday to open a three-game Missouri Valley series at Indiana State.
Naturally, the players are looking forward to being a part of Tuesday’s opening of Omaha’s new downtown stadium. Creighton will face Nebraska in the first game at TD Ameritrade Park, the Bluejays’ new home.
“I think you’ll see the juices flowing and they’ll be ready to play come Tuesday,’’ Servais said. “But in the meantime, we have a huge, huge weekend at Indiana State. That has to be our focus.’’
Creighton and Indiana State opened Valley play last weekend by winning two of three games. Southern Illinois was the only team to sweep its first series, winning three games at Evansville.
Indiana State and Creighton came within a run of sweeps. The Sycamores won the first two games of a home series against Bradley before losing 9-8 on Sunday. The Bluejays lost the opening game at Illinois State but bounced back to win the final two games.
Creighton followed its series win with a 7-6 victory over Kansas State on Tuesday. In addition to helping CU improve to 23-7, the victory came against a Big 12 team that is flirting with a Top 50 RPI ranking. The Wildcats were 55th in the NCAA rankings to start the week, two spots below Creighton, which owns the best RPI in the Valley.
Indiana State is 19-12 entering the series and is coming off its first series win to start conference play since 1998.
Creighton is the only Valley school to play its first two conference series on the road. The Bluejays have performed well away from home, compiling an 11-5 record in true road games. The 11 wins are tied for fifth most nationally, while their .688 winning percentage is second nationally among teams that have played 15 or more road games.
The Bluejays also are 11-3 in one-run games, which reflects the resiliency they’ve shown in the first two months of the season.
“There’s definitely not a lot of negativity in the dugout during games,” Creighton reliever Kurt Spomer said. “When we get down, there’s always guys picking other guys up, reminding us to keep plugging away and keep doing the little things.
“The little things are what is winning for us.”
Servais always has focused on the fundamentals, both offensively and defensively. He loves to bunt and hit-and-run, and he said he’s seeing improvement in those aspects of the game in recent weeks.
“We’re starting to execute a little better offensively,” Servais said. “I was really pleased with how we worked the hit and run in the Illinois State series, and we stole nine bases. We’re starting to see better results from that part of the offense.”
Notes: Creighton’s rotation will be left-hander Ty Blach (5-0, 2.58 ERA) in Friday’s game, right-hander Jonas Dufek (5-0, 1.78 ERA) on Saturday and left-hander Greg Hellhake (3-1, 3.62 ERA) on Sunday. ... Dufek ranks third in the Valley in both ERA and strikeouts (61). ... Outfielder Trever Adams leads the league in home runs (8) and total bases (88), while second baseman Alex Staehely tops the Valley in doubles (16). Adams also ranks third in RBIs (39) and fifth in batting average (.383).
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