Bulldogs can bypass Aggies

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Some things are starting to click into place for No. 21 Mississippi State, which is poised to make a strong push in the SEC Western Division standings.
The Bulldogs (27-9, 5-7 SEC) have won four of their last five games and will try to ride that momentum into this weekend’s three-game series at Texas A&M (21-13, 6-6). Tonight’s game is set for a 6:30, and the series continues Saturday (12:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).
MSU is currently fifth in the West, one game behind the Aggies. A lot of baseball remains, but it’s a good time to make a move.
“This is the kind of weekend where two out of three could do something dramatic for our club,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “Our kids know it. That’s your goal.”
The Bulldogs earned their first SEC series victory of the season last weekend, against Florida, and then beat No. 23 Ole Miss in Tuesday’s Governor’s Cup game. Second baseman Brett Pirtle said the pieces are starting to fall into place for MSU.
“We started off real good in the first of the season, then we started having ups and downs, and now we’re starting to put it together again,” Pirtle said. “We’re making all the plays, we’re starting to get the bats going again, and the pitching’s starting to do really well.”
pitching settling in
MSU’s pitching rotation does appear to be settling into place. Luis Pollorena, a native Texan, will start on the mound tonight for the third consecutive week. Kendall Graveman, who has tossed two straight complete games, goes Saturday.
And Cohen hopes that Jacob Lindgren can start Sunday. After missing a start with elbow soreness, the sophomore left-hander started last Sunday against Florida but left in the fifth inning after twisting his ankle.
Cohen believes the ankle is fine.
“Having Lindgren back kind of changes the dynamic of our pitching staff, because if you can believe that he’s going to give us five, six innings, that really shortens up the game for our bullpen,” Cohen said.
Texas A&M has been up and down this season. After taking series from Georgia and Ole Miss, the Aggies were swept by South Carolina before losing two of three to lowly Auburn last weekend. MSU is expecting a tough series, and Cohen has a lot of respect for A&M head coach Rob Childress.
“I think our kids know that this is a huge weekend for us,” Cohen said.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable challenge. A&M is a really solid club, and it’s going to be a fight.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com