Bulldogs to Face Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park
April 24, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
INDIANAPOLIS – Just days after playing Indiana State at Victory Field, the Bulldogs will return to action by playing at one of the premier parks in the country as they travel to Omaha, Neb. to face the Creighton Bluejays at TD Ameritrade Park this weekend.
A Look at Butler (16-23, 4-5 BIG EAST)
With a 4-5 conference record, Butler is in the mix for a tournament seed. The top four teams in the conference will earn a trip to Brooklyn for a chance to become BIG EAST Tournament Champions.
If the team is able to reach that plateau, the pitching will have to be on point. The weekend rotation vs. Creighton will feature Gunner Johnson taking the hill Friday followed by Billy Laing on Saturday, just like last weekend. The only change will be Eric Stout taking the bump on Sunday instead of Peter Nyznyk.
Johnson has turned into one of the best arms in the BIG EAST as he enters the weekend with a 2-1 conference record that includes a win over Josh Prevost of Seton Hall and Adam Hall of Xavier. The senior leads the team and is ranked fourth in the conference with a 2.47 earned run average. He has 34 strikeouts in 43.2 innings pitched while only allowing 13 walks.
Laing recently moved from the closer role to the Saturday weekend starter. In his first start of the 2014 season, Laing got off to a bit of a shaky start, but came back very strong to record the win over Xavier. After tossing over 120 pitches, Laing kept Butler in the game by limiting the Musketeers to just six hits over eight innings of work. The Bulldogs scored two in the bottom of the eighth to give Laing his second win of the season.
Sunday's starter will be Stout who most recently tossed two innings of shutout baseball to start the game vs. Indiana State. The left-handed junior is 3-6 on the year with an 8.12 ERA. He leads the team in strikeouts with 43 and is also the team leader in innings pitched with 47.2.
Marcos Calderon highlights the offensive unit as he enters the weekend with a six-game hitting streak. Calderon, an everyday starter in centerfield, is batting .315 on the season with eight doubles, a triple and two home runs. He leads the team with 62 total bases, 19 RBIs and nine stolen bases. Joining Calderon at the top of the order will be Chris Maranto and Austin Miller. Maranto is second on the team with a .313 batting average, while Miller has had arguably the best month of April from the plate as he comes into the series with a .286 BA.
Creighton opened BIG EAST play with a three-game home series vs. Georgetown. The Hoyas kept game one close, but it wasn't enough as Creighton held on for a 2-0 victory. Saturday turned into a doubleheader between the two clubs with Creighton winning game one 13-4 and game two 16-5 in the nightcap.
The first BIG EAST loss of the year for CU came in game one of the three-game series at Villanova. The Wildcats grabbed a 6-3 win, but Creighton responded with a 12-6 win on Friday followed by a 4-0 shutout victory over Nova on Saturday.
Creighton has one of the best pitching rotations in the BIG EAST conference as they head into the weekend posting a team ERA of 3.88. The weekend rotation will feature RHP Matt Warren, RHP Taylor Elman and LHP Jeff Albrecht.
Warren has the second-best ERA in the conference at 1.71. The sophomore has been lights out thus far this season with a perfect 8-0 record through 10 appearances. He has 33 strikeouts in 63 innings of action and also has one complete game to his credit.
Elman and Albrecht don't have the kind of numbers that Warren has been able to record, yet the weekend arms have done a good job of putting the Bluejays in a position to win. Elman is just 2-4 on the year with a 6.60 ERA. Albrecht only has 21 innings of action to his credit as he searches for his first decision of the season.
Creighton won't hesitate to jump into the bullpen this weekend as their young arms have been very active this season. John Oltman leads the BIG EAST conference in appearances as a freshman. He is a specialist that posts a 2.79 ERA. Joining Oltman as high profile arms out of the pen is the sophomore tandem of Nick Highberger and Will Bamesberger. Highberger leads the team with a 1.29 ERA in 22 appearances. He is 1-0 on the year with just six strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. Bamesberger is 2-1 on the year with a 3.86 ERA. He has tossed 11.2 innings during his 19 appearances.
The closer for Creighton is Bryan Sova who is currently tied for second in the BIG EAST with six saves. Sova is a senior that holds a 2-0 record that includes a 2.48 ERA. He has 20 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched.
Creighton gets offensive firepower from Mike Gerber and Reagan Fowler. Gerber, the team's home run leader with six bombs, holds a .277 average with eight doubles and one triple. He has 66 total bases to his credit to go along with 19 runs scored. Fowler is the team's top hitter on the team with a .325 average in 34 starts. He has a team-high 11 doubles and is also the top player on the team in triples with three.
BIG EAST Standings