By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Losing two of three games in an SEC series is not preferable, but John Cohen has a hard time being disappointed with his team.
Mississippi State managed only one win against Florida over the weekend, but considering it was on the road against the top-rated RPI team in the country, it was a solid showing. The Bulldogs (31-20, 13-14 SEC) were outscored 6-4, with three of those Florida runs unearned, and the other three coming on two home runs.
“When you know you can beat those kinds of clubs, you know you can get to the postseason, and you know when you get to the postseason you can win,” Cohen said. “We feel like we’re that close.”
MSU’s pitching is what kept the games close. Chris Stratton, who won the Ferriss Trophy on Monday, allowed four runs in Friday’s 4-1 loss, but two of those were unearned. And on Saturday, starter Kendall Graveman tossed 72/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 win.
The Gators won on Sunday, 2-1, managing only three hits against four MSU pitchers.
“Maybe in my four years as far as going on the road in an environment in one of our league’s smaller parks, I thought that was about as competitive as we’ve been,” pitching coach Butch Thompson said of his group. “But it still hurt. We just have to keep moving on.”
The offense has been a constant struggle for State, which plays host to Central Arkansas at 6:30 tonight before welcoming No. 4 Kentucky this weekend. The Bulldogs are currently tied for last in the SEC in hitting with a .249 average, but is first with a 2.71 ERA.
There are signs here and there of the bats coming to life, like sophomore Hunter Renfroe breaking out of a 2-for-23 slump. Against Florida, Renfroe was 7 of 13 with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs.
“He created some rhythm for himself, and that shows confidence, and that shows he’s recognizing the pitch,” Cohen said. “That’s it. It doesn’t matter what they were throwing up there, he was finding barrel this weekend.
“Quite frankly, we have to have more of that.”