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Jays go up swinging, roll past Xavier in series opener
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Jays go up swinging, roll past Xavier in series opener

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No messing around.

Creighton rolled to an 8-2 win against Xavier on Friday, thanks in part to a more aggressive approach in the opening game of a Big East series.

Creighton has not lost a conference series in its two seasons in the league but was 2-5 in first games heading into Friday’s contest that drew 2,217 fans to TD Ameritrade Park.

“I think we tried to feel teams out a little bit at the start of those games,” second baseman Ryan Fitzgerald said. “We’d usually throw up a good effort, but we knew we had to do something different. We just came right at them tonight.”

Fitzgerald supplied the Bluejays with their biggest hit of the night, a two-out, three-run homer in the first inning. The Musketeers had scored a run in their half of the first off starter Rollie Lacy.

“It’s unbelievable how big a play that homer was for me,” Lacy said. “I gave up that run right away, and I was rushing myself.

“I wasn’t very calm, and then he went out there and did that. That allowed me to just go out there and throw strikes, knowing I had that cushion.”

The Bluejays quickly expanded the cushion, tacking on a run in the second on Nicky Lopez’s RBI single and adding three runs in the third, with Kevin Lamb driving in one with the second of his three hits in the game.

Lacy made sure the Musketeers didn’t get back into the game, allowing just four hits over seven innings to improve to 3-0. The outing was the longest by a Creighton starter this season.

“Even though Rollie only had one strikeout, which you normally don’t see in a seven-inning performance, he threw a lot of strikes,” Creighton coach Ed Servais said. “And our defense can play, especially when we have the right guys out there.”

One of those guys is Lopez, who was back at shortstop for the first time since tearing cartilage in his left knee in a March 22 game. He underwent surgery April 1 and was back practicing eight days later.

In addition to going 1 for 4, Lopez made five plays in the field. He has not committed an error in 101 fielding chances this season.

“I got a little tired, but I can’t expect to feel 100 percent at this point,” Lopez said. “I didn’t have any pain. It was a sense of relief to be back, and we were clicking on all cylinders today.

“Fitzy’s three-run homer really lifted us. You could sense it in the dugout when he hit it. We were all excited, and then we just kept executing.”

Fitzgerald, who shifted from second base to shortstop while Lopez was out, was excited to see his teammate back on the field.

“Nicky is amazing at short,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m not surprised to see him back out there so soon. He’s a grinder. He wanted to come back the day after surgery, and he’s ready to go now.”

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