Baseball Bulldogs learning lessons

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi State took some lumps in Florida last weekend, and given the state of things, it won’t be the last time that happens.
That doesn’t mean John Cohen is going to mope about it.
The Bulldogs’ second-year coach was upbeat Tuesday when talking about his team’s tough weekend in Gainesville, where it lost all three games to Florida.
He started two freshman pitchers, Kendall Graveman and Chris Stratton, and had to pull Sunday starter Nick Routt after just two innings due to forearm tenderness.
“We’re thrilled with our freshman arms,” Cohen said. “We feel like they’re as good as any collection of freshman arms in the country, and we think that they’re going to be really, really good.
“I mean, you’re talking about a freshman going out there and throwing up a lot of zeros against one of the top two or three teams in the country, and that’s why they’re here.”
Graveman was roughed up on Friday, yielding five runs on six hits with four walks in five-plus innings of work, but he threw four scoreless frames. Stratton, of Tupelo, threw a strong six innings Saturday, giving up just one run on four hits, striking out seven, and walking three.
The problem in that game, a 5-4 loss, as well as in Sunday’s 4-1 setback, was a lack of offense. For the weekend, MSU (11-9) hit .220, although nine of its 22 hits went for extra bases.
State ranks 11th in the SEC in both team batting average (.279) and slugging percentage (.431).
“We’re just offensively not a great club yet,” Cohen said. “We’re going to have to do a lot of small things to be successful.”
Memphis (9-11) visits MSU at 6:30 p.m. today and, as in last week’s mid-week game, Cohen will use several pitchers in order to get his bullpen some work.
Then this weekend, the Bulldogs play their first SEC home series of the year against Georgia (8-12, 0-3 SEC).
Cohen said he expects the starting rotation to stay the same, except for Routt. The sophomore left-hander will be out two to four weeks with an unspecified injury in his forearm.
Cohen did not know Tuesday night who would start in Routt’s place Sunday.

Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@djournal.com.