Cohen, Bulldogs Step Onto Big Stage in Omaha

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

College World Series: No. 14 Mississippi State (48-18) vs. No. 4 Oregon State (50-11), Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN2 (Karl Ravech, Kyle Peterson and Kaylee Hartung)

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OMAHA, Neb. | I’m coming to you from lovely TD Ameritrade Park, where teams have been practicing and fans have been milling about, buying souvenirs and getting autographs. Plenty of media here, of course, and we got to visit with the head coaches earlier today.

MSU’s John Cohen has played in Omaha before, but that was at old Rosenblatt Stadium. He likes the new digs.

“I feel like Gomer Pyle walking underneath the stadium here,” Cohen said. “Like, wow, look at this room, they’ve got this. They’ve got the blue room for just hanging out, then they’ve got the locker rooms, they’ve got the (batting) cage room. I’m from Starkville, Miss., right? This is really cool stuff.”

As for the dimensions of this park, it’s spacious: 335 feet down the lines, 375 to the gaps, and 408 to dead center field. MSU, of course, plays in a pretty big park, and it’s played in nothing but big parks this postseason, including Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (SEC Tournament) and Davenport Field (Charlottesville Super Regional).

“It’s a little easier to adjust to a bigger ballpark if you play in one,” Cohen said.

A totally different adjustment for the Bulldogs will be to the size of the stage they’re on and the environment that comes with it.

“Even though these kids haven’t been to Omaha yet, I would love to think they’re mature enough to be able to deal with this. We have some older guys, too. Certainly it’s their own experience, and I hope they’ll do fine with it.”

• MSU will go with senior right-hander Kendall Graveman (7-5, 3.14 ERA) on the mound tomorrow. Oregon State coach Pat Casey said he’d like to throw senior southpaw Matt Boyd (10-3, 2.13), but he was used in relief on Monday (1 1/3 innings, 21 pitches), and two days prior to that he tossed 123 pitches over seven innings in a start.

So Plan B would be freshman Andrew Moore (14-1, 1.36), who was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America.

“We want to go with Matt Boyd, we plan on going with Matt Boyd,” Casey said. “We went to practice today and had him throwing. I haven’t actually talked to him, but Mo’s ready to go, too. There’s no secret that we threw Matty on Monday, threw an inning and a third. But if he feels good, we’ll go with him; if not, we’ll go with Mo. We’ll know that at 6 o’clock or whenever we get back.”

• Cohen was asked about junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who’s had a breakout season (.360 average, 15 home runs, 61 RBIs) and was drafted 13th overall by San Diego. Cohen relayed a story from earlier this season involving the MSU team bus driver, Everett Kennard.

“He goes, ‘It’s about doggone time. You’ve been telling me about this boy for two years, and he ain’t done nothing.’ He went out and had a great summer. He’s grown up a little bit, he’s matured, and he’s become what we all thought he could do.”

Click here for more at Brad Locke’s Mississippi State Blog.