BY PAUL JONES
Special to The Journal
STARKVILLE – For 29 seasons, Ron Polk coached in the third-base dugout and the third-base coaching box at Dudy Noble Field.
But Wednesday night, the former MSU mentor was in the first-base dugout in a different uniform and different role.
Polk is in his first year as a volunteer coach for UAB, which dropped an 8-4 decision to the host Bulldogs in non-conference baseball action.
“You don’t want to root against kids that you recruited and as I said, I’ve had to face my former kids before,” said Polk. “You would rather play somebody else. But it was good being back, even if it was in that first-base dugout.”
During his head coaching career, Polk collected 1,373 victories (seventh in Division 1 history) and led the Diamond Dogs to six appearances in the College World Series.
“Coming back (to Dudy Noble Field) is a little different now because I am not the head coach,” said Polk. “I am just the bullpen coach and the outfield coach and I help with some decisions on the bench.”
MSU head coach John Cohen replaced Polk and also played for Polk during his college playing days.
“Anybody that played for Ron Polk gets a little excited to see him,” said Cohen. “He has a great sense of humor and he always knows what to say and at the right time to say it.”
Concerning the actual game, MSU trailed 3-1 in the fifth until Ryan Powers’ first career home run gave the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good on Ryan Powers’ first career homer – a three-run shot in the bottom of the fifth.
Mississippi State increased its lead to 8-3 with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by Grant Hogue’s three-run triple.
Bulldog reliever Lee Swindle (1-1) picked up the win.
Rebels top Tigers
OXFORD – Ole Miss erupted for five early runs and held on for a 7-4 win over Memphis.
Reliever Nathan Baker earned the win with three shutout innings, striking out four in that span. Jordan Henry paced the offensive attack with a 3-for-4 night.