BASEBALL: Young Bulldogs learning in school of hard knocks

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – As his young team continues to struggle, John Cohen remains philosophical.
It’s probably the only approach that can keep Mississippi State’s second-year baseball coach sane right now. His Bulldogs just took a pair of whippings at the hands of No. 12 South Carolina, sandwiched around an 8-7 win, this past weekend in Columbia.
MSU (15-13, 3-6 SEC), which hosts Jackson State at 6:30 p.m. today, gave up 31 runs over the three games. Freshman starter Kendall Graveman never got an out in Friday’s 10-2 loss, and senior Tyler Whitney might have made his last career start on Sunday, a 14-2 Gamecocks win.
On the upside, freshman Chris Stratton bounced back from a tough start the previous week by working five decent innings on Saturday. He gave up three runs on eight hits to earn his first SEC win and improve to 3-3 on the season.
“It’s just where we are,” Cohen said Monday. “We do not have an inherited junior pitcher in our program. When you go around our infield, a lot of the time we have third (base), second (base), short(stop), who have never played in an SEC game before this year, where they’re competing against guys who have.
“And it’s really, really hurting us, our total lack of experience.”
What’s also hurt is not having sophomore left-hander Nick Routt available. He’s missed the last two weekends with an arm injury and was scheduled to have a second MRI done on the arm Monday night.
Cohen said sophomore Caleb Reed (0-2, 4.31 ERA) could start this Sunday against Arkansas, or “it might be anybody. But we sure would like to have Routt back.”
He added that Whitney, a weekend starter last year, might be relegated to full-time relief duty.
“And that’s tough, it’s tough on our coaching staff. Because we really want it to happen for him, it just never has.”

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