By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has passed some early tests, and John Cohen hopes that is beneficial down the line.
The Bulldogs (6-1) are coming off a 4-0 weekend, taking two games each from Kansas and Mississippi Valley State. The wins over Kansas were by scores of 1-0 and 3-1, and MSU is 3-1 in games decided by two runs or less.
A lot of that has to do with the deep, experienced pitching staff, which has posted 1.88 ERA. MSU got strong performances from Chris Stratton, Nick Routt and Evan Mitchell in the wins over Kansas.
State made only three errors all weekend. Pitching and defense is what Cohen, who’s in his fourth season as head coach, said will be the key to winning these close games.
“That’s going to be the nature of our club,” Cohen said. “What that does for you is if you can get to the postseason, the kids are so used to being in those kinds of games that they don’t freeze up. They’ll be used to it.”
Such experience will be invaluable for a lineup filled with young talent. While the offense struggled against the Jayhawks, the Bulldogs came up with big hits late in each game, from redshirt freshman Wes Rea and sophomore Adam Frazier.
“Our kids can sense that we have the right people,” Cohen said. “They sense that there is a togetherness. We need a lot of selflessness.”
Regarding that selflessness, Cohen pointed out that several veterans didn’t get to play this past weekend, including pitchers Chad Girodo and Luis Pollorena. Cohen hopes to get some of those players involved soon, perhaps today when Memphis visits Dudy Noble Field at 4 p.m.
Getting young players early playing time is a must for the Bulldogs, who hope to build off last year’s run to the NCAA Super Regional. They’re going to have to lean on those guys this season, and Cohen is pleased that so far he’s not having to micro-manage those guys.
“Even if those guys don’t have a lot of experience, they really understand the game, and that really helps. You just can’t coach every single situation from the sidelines; guys at some point are going to have to take over and make adjustments on their own.”