Ed Servais found himself in a strange position during the opening weekend of Creighton’s baseball season.
For the first time in his head coaching career, Servais stayed in the dugout. New assistant coach Spencer Allen took over the coaching duties at third base, freeing Servais up to manage from the dugout.
“It’s been something I’ve thought about for a long time, and it’s something I thought we needed to do as the next step with our program,” Servais said. “I hadn’t done it because I didn’t have the trust in a coach to do it.
“I have that with Spence. He and I think alike a lot more times than not. I have a lot of faith in him out there, and this move frees me up to be with the team all the time. I think I get a better feel for what’s going on in the dugout, and it gives me a chance to have a better idea what the pulse of our team is.”
The move worked out quite well initially for the Bluejays, who swept a three-game series at Dallas Baptist. Allen was busy at third, waving home 29 runners as the Bluejays scored 11 and 15 runs in the first two games before squeezing out a 3-1 win Sunday.
The sweep was impressive for a couple of reasons. First, Dallas Baptist lost just three home games last season when it put together a campaign that ended in the NCAA tournament. The Patriots bounced back from getting swept to knock off No. 10 Rice on Tuesday.
Allen, in his second go-round as a member of Servais’ staff, said he thought the new setup worked well. This is the first time he’s coached third base.
“I think the biggest advantage is that it allows Ed to think ahead on what we want to do offensively, defensively and with our pitching,” Allen said. “I think it allows him to have a better feel for the game and who’s handling the failures that go along with this game.
“You don’t always have a chance to see or hear that when you’re out there coaching on the field.”
Servais said he decided to turn over the third-base box to Allen when he hired him last summer. Allen had spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons with Servais before taking a job in professional baseball. He returned to collegiate coaching in 2008 and spent the last three seasons at Washington State, where he was in charge of the hitters, catchers and recruiting.
“I knew from the time he spent here before that he could handle it,” Servais said. “I don’t give my assistants responsibilities. They have to earn them, and I thought Spence had earned the chance to coach third base.
“This frees me up to spend more time with the hitters, and I can better communicate with our pitchers. We have so many new pitchers, and I want to be a little more involved with our pitching than I have been in the past. I couldn’t do that if I were out on the field.”
It did seem strange, senior shortstop Alex Staehely said, to see Servais in the dugout when the Bluejays were hitting.
“It was a little different,” Staehely said, “but having him in there definitely brought a lot of life to the dugout.”