Creighton’s top two sluggers stood next to each other in the on-deck circle Tuesday as a new UNO reliever warmed up to try to deal with the ominous eighth-inning, bases-loaded situation.
Will Robertson and Jake Holton were both thinking the same thing: Time to launch one.
Then again, that’s kind of how the punishing duo have approached most of the other run-scoring chances they’ve had this season.
They’re constant threats at the plate — the 1-2 punch has been one of the more significant reasons Creighton is still in contention for a Big East crown and still has a legitimate case for its first NCAA regional berth in seven seasons. UNO (27-19-1) experienced that potency firsthand Tuesday.
For just the second time in the Jays’ nine-year history at TD Ameritrade Park, they recorded two grand slams in the same game. Robertson smashed one in the third and Holton delivered his bomb in the eighth to lead Creighton (32-11) to a blissful 13-2 win over the reeling Mavs on Tuesday.
“Those guys can hit,” UNO coach Evan Porter said after the game. “They can really, really hit.”
They’re heating up at the right time, too.
Holton’s batting .463 (19 for 41) over his past 10 contests — and he’s produced an .829 slugging percentage. The grand slam Tuesday was his second in five days.
During that same stretch, Robertson is hitting .326 (15 for 43) with 17 RBIs. He’s tallied three home runs and three doubles, too.
“I wouldn’t want to face those two guys,” Creighton coach Ed Servais said.
Servais said he hasn’t seen a more lethal tandem this season.
Holton, from California, is the previously unheralded junior college product who has a real shot at the Big East player of the year award. He’s patient at the plate until he gets the pitch he wants. Then he obliterates it. He can put the barrel on anything and guide it anywhere — his grand slam Tuesday came on an 0-1 inside slider at his knees.
Robertson is the high-profile MLB prospect with a chance to get drafted higher than any Bluejay in the past 25 years. The ball explodes off his bat. At times, the lefty-swinging Minnesotan can be overaggressive and accidentally bury himself into pitcher-friendly counts — but on the other hand, he can unload on a first-pitch fastball like he did Tuesday and jettison it halfway up the right-field bleachers.
But can they sustain this?
Can Holton and Robertson serve as the centerpieces within the Jays’ lineup when the pressure is at its highest?
CU needs to sweep Villanova to win the Big East regular-season title. The Jays have a good shot at an NCAA tournament at-large berth, but they’ll first aim to clinch their first-ever Big East tournament crown next week. Then, possibly, it’s a regional.
Holton and Robertson know what’s at stake. They’ve been meeting their own high standards all year.
In the eighth inning Tuesday, with the bases loaded, Robertson turned to Holton in the on-deck circle. Robertson had already hit a grand slam. Now it was Holton’s turn.
“Drive them all in here,” Robertson said to his teammate.
Holton didn’t flinch. He rarely does. Same goes for Robertson. Those are the scenarios they relish.
“We’re playing well right now,” Holton said. “We’re jelling really well. We’re excited to make a run.”
UNO, meanwhile, will try to regroup before hosting Oral Roberts on Thursday for the start of a three-game series to end the regular season. The Mavs have a 11⁄2-game lead over South Dakota State in the Summit League standings.