Atlanta Notes: Funky Park; Pollorena Dealing; Parks’ Slump

ATLANTA | Mississippi State got here last night and practiced at Georgia Tech’s Russ Chandler Stadium this afternoon. It’s an oddly shaped park, as the dimensions will tell you: 328 feet down the left field line, 391 to left-center, 400 to dead center, 353 to right-center, and 334 down the right field line.

The deepest part of the park is just to the left of center field, where it measures 409 feet from home plate.

Freshman Hunter Renfroe stepped up early in today’s practice and launched one over the left-field wall and off the football practice facility behind built behind it.

“Right off the bat we noticed it travels a whole lot better than our field,” senior Jarrod Parks said.

One wonders how this will affect MSU’s small-ball approach when it faces Southern Miss on Friday (2 p.m., CSS). Probably not much.

“If we’re in striking distance, we’re going to do everything we can to hit and run, run and hit, bunt, try to steal bases – all the things that we’re kind of built to do, even though this ballpark plays a little smaller to the right side,” coach John Cohen said. “But wind direction, the guy on the bump, all these things can change what you do in a heartbeat, especially in tournament play. We’ve got to do what got us here.”

Some other notes and quotes from today.

• MSU starter Luis Pollorena (6-5, 4.44 ERA) said he was throwing his fastball as hard as ever during Monday’s live bullpen session.

“It was a very explosive fastball,” catcher Wes Thigpen said.

• A candidate to start the second game of this regional for State is freshman Evan Mitchell (5-1, 3.49). Cohen said he’d be “shocked” if Mitchell didn’t pitch this weekend – MSU is guaranteed at least two games in the double-elimination format – and said he could be used in relief Friday if necessary.

“He’s a weapon for us, and I think he’s one of our hottest pitchers,” Cohen said.

• Parks, who’s tied for the SEC lead with a .383 average, is 6 of 30 at the plate his last nine games. He said he’ll try to simplify his approach this weekend.

“This regional I’m really going to try hard to take an easy swing and maybe just poke the ball to right instead of trying to hit a ball to the left-field wall,” he said.

• USM outfielder Tyler Koelling, who’s missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, will be in the lineup tomorrow, according to coach Scott Berry. Koelling, the team’s top hitter (.367), will play either right field or designated hitter.

Koelling said he expects to be “85 or 90 percent tomorrow.”