Baseball Minute: Weekend Has Postseason Feel

Righty Joe Kuzia of St. John's has been locking things down at the back of the Red Storm's bullpen. He'll look to do the same this weekend during a three-game set versus Xavier.

Righty Joe Kuzia of St. John's has been locking things down at the back of the Red Storm's bullpen. He'll look to do the same this weekend during a three-game set versus Xavier.

April 29, 2014

Composite Schedule | BIG EAST Statistics

NEW YORK – The upcoming schedule in the BIG EAST should get any baseball fan’s attention.

Several weeks before the conference’s top four teams converge on MCU Park in Brooklyn for the 2014 BIG EAST Tournament, the teams currently situated in those positions in the standings will square off for three games this weekend when Xavier hosts St. John’s and Seton Hall heads to Creighton.

The Musketeers and Red Storm are knotted in a second-place tie, while the Bluejays are in first but lead the fourth-place Pirates by just two games.

It could be an early playoff preview in the BIG EAST. Butler will have the conference bye this weekend, and it might be just what the Bulldogs needed after dropping three straight to Creighton, including the last two in one- and two-run decisions. Villanova heads to Georgetown for three games starting Friday. Both saw their postseason hopes dimmed after being swept last weekend.

There’s plenty of midweek action scheduled with 11 games set over Tuesday and Wednesday. Butler looks for a quick rebound Tuesday when it hosts Kalamazoo, while Villanova goes to Rutgers, St. John’s hosts Princeton, Xavier visits Wright State and Creighton entertains Nebraska. On Wednesday, Xavier hosts city rival Cincinnati, Seton Hall heads to St. Peter’s, Villanova entertains Temple, St. John’s is home for Iona and Georgetown plays host to Coppin State for a twinbill.

BIG EAST Notebook

A heavyweight contest is set for this weekend when first-place Creighton, at 8-1 in the BIG EAST, hosts 6-3 Seton Hall for a three-game series beginning Friday. The opener is scheduled to feature perhaps the most anticipated pitching matchup of the conference season when Pirate righty and reigning BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week Josh Prevost (9-1, 1.48 ERA, 91 Ks in 85 IP) squares off with Creighton righthander Matt Warren (9-0, 1.67, only 20 BBs in 70 IP). Prevost is coming off a career-high 13 strikeout performance Friday in a 10-0 victory against Villanova that started off a series sweep. The Bluejays took three straight from Butler over the weekend with Warren allowing one run on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts over seven innings in Friday’s 8-1 win.



The top four teams in the final regular-season standings will qualify for the BIG EAST Tournament, and that group did a ton of work to separate itself from the rest of the pack last weekend. Xavier was idle in conference play and remains 7-2 in the conference, while Creighton, St. John’s and Seton Hall all picked up three-game sweeps over Butler, Georgetown and Villanova, respectively. The Red Storm are tied with Xavier for second, while just two games separate the first-place Bluejays from the fourth-place Pirates. Butler (4-8 in the BIG EAST) is in fifth, Villanova (3-9) in sixth and Georgetown (1-11) seventh.

Every conference series is important, but each weekend they become that much more meaningful. In addition to the Creighton-Seton Hall matchup in Omaha, Xavier and St. John’s square off for three games in Cincinnati starting Friday. Both teams are at 7-2 in the conference and this weekend might serve as a semifinal preview. The third BIG EAST series this weekend pits Villanova against Georgetown in suburban Washington, D.C., in a matchup of two teams desperately looking to make up precious real estate in the standings.

Creighton’s non-conference battle with in-state rival Nebraska Tuesday night will air live on CBS Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. It won’t be long before the next BIG EAST game appears on CBSSN, as Sunday’s Creighton-Seton Hall matchup from Omaha will air starting at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Seton Hall remained at No. 29 for the second straight week in Monday’s Collegiate Baseball Top 30 poll. The Pirates are coming off a three-game sweep of Villanova and head into a battle with first-place Creighton on the road starting Friday in BIG EAST play. Seton Hall also received votes in the NCBWA and USA Today coaches polls.

One of three teams making its BIG EAST debut in 2014, the Creighton Bluejays were named slim favorites in the preseason baseball poll conducted by the seven head coaches in February. Creighton captured a poll-topping 32 points with two first-place votes to edge out Seton Hall's 31 points and two first-place votes. St. John's captured three first-place nods and took third in the poll with 29 points. Xavier (21 points), Georgetown (12), Butler (11) and Villanova (11) rounded out the rest. Creighton also swept the major preseason awards with Tommy Strunc earning the Pitcher of the Year nod and Mike Gerber the Player of the Year award.

The decisive game of the 2014 BIG EAST Baseball Championship will air nationally on FOX Sports 1, as announced in February. It's one of four BIG EAST spring championships FS1 will air, including men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse and softball. The BIG EAST Baseball Championship will take place at MCU Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., May 22-25.

We’d love to have you, but if you can’t make it to the ballpark, don’t sweat it. The first five games of the BIG EAST Baseball Tournament from MCU Park in Brooklyn will stream live for free on May 22-24, giving fans the ability to watch and follow along with their favorite programs and players during the championship event.

The top four teams in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings will qualify for the conference tournament, which begins May 22 at MCU Park in Brooklyn. The No. 1 seed will take on No. 4 in one game, and the second and third seeds will meet in the second. Two games are set for May 23, with the winners of the first two games squaring off in Game 3 and the losers facing each other in Game 4. The Game 3 loser will play the Game 4 winner in Game 5 on May 24. The winner of that game plays the Game 3 winner for the BIG EAST crown on May 25.