No. 5 Mississippi State is back on the diamond this weekend for a big set of games. The Bulldogs (5-0) are hosting The Diamond Classic, with Purdue and Samford coming to Dudy Noble Field. Both of those teams made the NCAA tournament field last year, and you might recall that MSU lost twice to Samford in the Tallahassee Regional.
I caught up with MSU coach John Cohen on Wednesday afternoon. He said the weekend pitching rotation would be the same as last week, with Jacob Lindgren drawing the start Friday against Purdue, followed by Evan Mitchell in Saturday’s first game (vs. Samford) and Kendall Graveman in the nightcap (vs. Purdue). Sunday’s starter vs. Samford is TBA; among the candidates Cohen listed are Will Cox, Trevor Fitts and Luis Pollorena.
I’ve got a few excerpts from my chat with Cohen below, and I’ll have more on the big weekend in Friday’s Journal.
Have to be happy with the 5-0 start, especially the pitching:
“We’re pleased with the pitching staff. We had a few more walks than we want to with our staff. In this cold weather we haven’t thrown every pitcher we’ve wanted to. For the most part I’ve been really pleased, especially with our bullpen and the way they’ve come in and challenged hitters.”
(MSU has a 0.60 team ERA.)
On first baseman Wes Rea’s health:
“We’re giving him a little bit of a rest. He’s got a little bit of a quad issue, and we’re trying to get that worked out, and I know it’s just killing Wes, because he wants to be out there. But every time one door shuts, another one opens. We’ve gotten the opportunity to get (Alex) Detz out there, and I think he’s played pretty well. He’s somebody who’s going to help us offensively. Certainly we want Wes back out there, but the opportunity that has presented itself for Detz has been beneficial to our club also.”
(Rea missed one game last weekend and has come off the bench the last two games. Detz, a juco transfer, is 1 of 8 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored.)
Depth allows you to better handle injuries:
“No doubt. We have the ability to certainly give guys, if they’re a little banged up, give them a little bit more time and get other guys in the mix. The other thing our depth allows us to do is it allows C.T. Bradford to be a relief guy for us as well. That’s something, with three outfield injuries a year ago, we just didn’t have that luxury. Of course C.T. was one of those guys that got hurt. That’s something I really love about this group, the group is athletic enough that they really allow us to make a lot of different moves.”
(Bradford, the starting center fielder, has logged two-thirds of an inning in two mound appearances.)
“They’re a very offensive club, they really know how to score runs. You’ve got to do the best you can trying to keep those guys from scoring a lot against you.”
(Samford, which is 4-1, is averaging 10.2 runs per game and batting .358.)