Monday, April 16, 2018

Creighton Baseball at TD Ameritrade Park

All photos of Creighton Blue Jays game available on Flickr.

I made my 15th(!) work trip to Omaha a couple of weeks ago and decided to return to TD Ameritrade Park to watch a Creighton baseball game instead of the Storm Chasers.  The Blue Jays use the park as their home field in an effort to justify building a brand new ballpark for basically one event, and judging by their record the last couple of years it is clearly a fantastic recruiting tool.  I was curious to see what the atmosphere would be like for a regular season collegiate game as opposed to the packed house of the College World Series.  The answer is that it could not have been more of a night and day difference.  The box score may tell you that the attendance was 1186, but I believe I counted only 150 fans at one point.  Either there were a ton of people staying warm in the suites, or a lot of season ticket holders did not want to brave the 40° temperature.  Regardless, it worked out well for me as I got a walkup seat for $10 only a few rows back from home plate.  I was also not too far from the Creighton dugout, from which their encouraging cheers were emanating so audibly that I almost felt like I was part of the team.
Given the cold weather (although given what we are getting hit with now it seemed almost tropical in hindsight), I took a lap around the stadium to stay warm.  I did not really notice anything different from my last visit in 2016, and it would have been easy to notice any changes given the emptiness of the park.  Literally only two concession stands were open and all that they had was your standard ballpark fare - dogs, popcorn, etc.  The one I went to was probably the lady's first ever customer and I had to coach her on tapping a beer.  I'm not saying I was expecting anything more; in fact this was exactly what I was expecting.  I just always find humor in going to games where the players and coaches outnumber the fans.  I stood in the bathroom with my Coors Light for awhile to stay warm and headed to my seat.
Creighton jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first three innings against Kansas State, and it made me feel better about only making it 6 innings before I tapped out.  K-State starter Jarod Marolf got the loss in only 2 innings of work, but it was his successor on the mound Andrew Stratman who had the poorest showing.  He lasted only 2/3rds of an innings, giving up 5 unearned runs on only 1 hit and 3 walks.  That one hit was a bases-loaded double by leadoff man Clark Brinkman.  It's always hard to focus on game action when it's cold and you're unfamiliar with the players, but the hitter who most stood out to me was Creighton's cleanup hitter, Will Robertson.  He went 2-4 with a 2-run triple and absolutely smoked the ball all 3 plate appearances I saw him.  I actually stayed an inning longer than I wanted to just so I could watch him hit a third time.  On the pitching side, the Creighton starter was quite impressive.  Preston Church got the win by pitching into the 6th, and was only pulled because of a strict pitch count.  He gave up no runs on 2 hits striking out 3.  He had an average fastball but decent breaking stuff located well that kept the Wildcat hitters off balance all night.

I left in the 7th and it looks like the Blue Jays hung on for the 8-3 win.  As of right now my last scheduled visit to Omaha for awhile will be in June, which I'm hoping lines up perfectly with yet another return trip to the College World Series.

starters - Jared Marolf (KSU) v. Preston Church (CRE)
opponent - Kansas State Wildcats
time of game - 3:14
attendance - 1180
score - 8-3 W
Brewers score that day - 6-0 L

Brewers 8-8 (3 v. Reds, 4 v. Marlins, 2 @ Royals)
Reds 2-13 (3 @ Brewers, 3 @ Cards, 4 v. Braves)
Twins 7-4 (2 v. Indians [San Juan], 3 @ Rays, 4 @ Yankees)

Erik - 2 (+4 worked)
Peter - 2

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