By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
ATLANTA – Evan Mitchell will feel quite at home on the mound today.
The freshman right-hander will start for No. 3 seed Mississippi State against No. 4 seed Austin Peay in the NCAA Regional winner’s bracket game (6 p.m., CSS), and he’ll be only a few miles from his hometown of Marietta, where he starred at Wheeler High School.
Mitchell (5-1, 3.49 ERA) was sitting at his house Friday night watching the Austin Peay-Georgia Tech game, and he expects about 20 friends and family to be on hand today at Russ Chandler Stadium.
“It’s definitely a nice feeling that I can just come home before I get to the game and just say hi to all my family and friends,” he said.
But Mitchell will try not to get caught up in being at home, he added, and coach John Cohen is hoping he pitches like he did last week.
Mitchell had a strong start against Florida in the first game of the SEC Tournament, allowing two runs on five hits in five innings. But the bullpen blew it, and Florida won, 7-5.
“We’d like to stretch him out a little bit more than that,” Cohen said. “He pitched very well last week, and we would love to get that same type of effort out of him (today).”
In his last two outings, Mitchell has given up two runs on nine hits, struck out 16 and walked five in 91/3 innings. In his five previous starts, Mitchell has an ERA of 5.76 with 20 strikeouts and eight walks.
– Friday’s 3-0 win over Southern Miss marked MSU’s first shutout since March 30, when it beat Alabama Aamp&M, 18-0, in seven innings. It was the sixth shutout of the season for State.
As for postseason shutouts, the last occurrence was 2007, which was the Bulldogs’ last trip to the NCAAs. They beat Florida State 3-0 in Tallahassee in the second game of that regional. Justin Pigott threw seven innings for MSU, which reached the College World Series that year.
– With men on first and second in the second inning, MSU catcher Wes Thigpen fired down to first base to pick off Chase Fowler. It was Thigpen’s sixth pickoff of the season, which is tops in the SEC, pitchers included.
Vickerson swinging it
n Second baseman Nick Vickerson got MSU on the board in the first inning with an RBI double. That gives the senior seven RBIs over his last four games, and he’s hitting .357 during the stretch with a slugging percentage of 1.071.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.