By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Alex Detz hadn’t originally planned to play at Mississippi State, and he sure as heck hadn’t planned to play first base.
Good thing for the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs that he’s doing both. Detz, a native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., has come to the rescue as starting first baseman Wes Rea battles a quad injury.
The junior college transfer is hitting .423 on the young season and has a team-best 12 RBIs.
Over his last three games, Detz is 8 of 10 at the plate with two doubles and eight RBIs.
His Bulldogs (11-0) host Saint Joseph’s, an Atlantic 10 school from Philadelphia, in a four-game series starting at 4 p.m. today. Game 2 is noon Saturday, and they’ll finish up with a Sunday doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.
Detz was all set to commit to Oregon State when his recruitment changed direction. He played summer ball in San Luis Obispo with State shortstop Adam Frazier two years ago, and the coach of that team, Chal Fanning, had a strong connection to MSU coach John Cohen, as the two had worked together at Missouri many years ago.
“Adam definitely had a big part in me coming here,” Detz said.
He was a middle infielder at Cuesta (Calif.) College, then got some work at third base during MSU’s preseason drills. Before Rea was injured, MSU’s coaches were looking for a good backup option at first base, and they felt Detz fit the bill.
“He’s got great hands as middle infielder, and just not quite as much range as some of our other second basemen,” Cohen said. “So third base and first base came into play.”
Detz said it hasn’t been too difficult an adjustment for him, and he’s sought the help of Rea, who he called “the best defensive first baseman I’ve ever played with.”
Detz certainly has adjusted well at the plate, where he brings a left-handed bat to the lineup.
He batted .324 at Cuesta last season. After a slow start this year – he was 1 of 10 after his first five games – Detz has rediscovered his hitting prowess.
“On the at-bats where I’m not (getting my pitches), I’m fouling the balls off that I don’t want to hit and working the walks,” he said. “Then the balls that they’re leaving over the plate I’m able to take advantage.”