By Eric Olson
After throwing a complete game in his first start in two years, Mississippi State’s Ross Mitchell has convinced coach John Cohen to make him a weekend starter.
The junior left-hander was among the nation’s best relievers last season, going 13-0 with a 1.53 ERA in a school record-tying 34 appearances for the national runner-up Bulldogs.
The plan was for Mitchell to remain in a relief role. But Ben Bracewell and Brandon Woodruff have underperformed, and Cohen wanted to get a look at Mitchell as a starter before the meat of the SEC schedule arrives.
Cohen liked what he saw Saturday. Mitchell allowed one run and four hits in a 6-1 victory that started a doubleheader sweep at Georgia.
“We were kind of hoping we’d keep him in the bullpen because using him twice instead of once a week would be valuable,” Cohen said Monday. “We can’t afford that luxury. We’re going to need him to start on the weekend.”
The 6-foot-1, 162-pound Mitchell’s only other start was a two-inning, no-decision outing against Mercer when he was a freshman.
His performance Saturday improved him to 3-1 this season and 19-1 in his career. Left-handed batters are hitting .148 against Mitchell in 36 innings this season.
All-America closer Jonathan Holder, who blew two saves early in the season while pitching with a finger injury, picked up his second save on Saturday. In his last two outings he’s given up two earned runs in seven innings.
The Bulldogs are adjusting offensively after losing All-American and first-round draft pick Hunter Renfroe and leadoff man Adam Frazier, who led the nation in hits last season. They’re 15-8 and coming off their first series win at Georgia since 1997.
“We’re hoping our best baseball comes down the stretch,” Cohen said. “No one remembers regular seasons. Everybody remembers what you do in the NCAA tournament.”
Florida State posted the most impressive sweep of the week, going on the road to win three straight over North Carolina State in a series matching teams ranked in the top 10.
Jose Brizuela delivered a walk-off RBI single in the 13th inning of a 9-8 come-from-behind win in the finale. The Seminoles hadn’t swept N.C. State in Raleigh since 2009.
FSU plays at rival Florida today, then head to Clemson for another big series.
Vanderbilt won its 23rd straight regular-season series, and 15th in a row in SEC play, when it swept a doubleheader against LSU Saturday. Commodores freshman Hayden Stone made his first SEC appearance with bases loaded and a one-run lead in the fourth inning of the second game.
Stone struck out a season-high 10 over 51⁄3 innings to earn his first career win.
LSU ace Aaron Nola’s streak of consecutive innings without allowing an earned run ended at 54 on Friday when Vanderbilt’s Ro Coleman lifted a sacrifice fly in the second inning.
The Tigers won, with Nola getting no decision after matching his career high with 12 strikeouts in 62⁄3 innings.
Nebraska won a series against nationally ranked UC Irvine, scoring 20 runs on 33 hits in a doubleheader sweep Saturday. The outburst came against a pitching staff that started the weekend sixth nationally with a 1.68 ERA. Freshman Ryan Boldt was 8 for 13 with four doubles and four RBIs in the series.
The Huskers are batting .322 and averaging 7.3 runs and are now 3-2 against ranked opponents.
Jayhawks fly high
Kansas scored five times in the ninth inning to beat Texas 6-1 and clinch a series win in Austin for the first time since 1996.
The Longhorns entered the series ranked as high as No. 10.
UCLA’s Cody Poteet has struck out 18 and allowed two earned runs over his last 22 1-3 innings. He went seven innings and gave up a run on three hits in a 6-1 win Sunday that finished a series sweep at California.