Cohen: On Pitching, Practicing, Returning to Hoover

How well Mississippi State does at the SEC Tournament this week could be due in large part to pitching matchups. Coach John Cohen is biding his time in deciding who he will start against Florida on Wednesday, but he’s at least narrowed it down.

On this morning’s SEC coaches teleconference, Cohen said either sophomore left-hander Luis Pollorena (6-4, 4.04) or freshman right-hander Evan Mitchell (5-1, 3.48) will draw the start.

“We’re still gathering information and kind of waiting to see who we’re actually going to face and match up with against Florida, too,” Cohen said. “We’ll have that probably in the middle of the day. We’re probably getting way too much information put together about Florida at this point in time. We’re still waiting to decide if we’re going to go right or left against Florida.”

He hinted that Pollorena could return to a relief role, because he’s not exactly been stellar as a starter every time out.

As for Florida, coach Kevin O’Sullivan hasn’t decided yet, either, and won’t until tonight. But he did say that Wednesday’s starter probably won’t be one of his regular weekend guys, so tha rules out sophomore lefty Brian Johnson (8-3, 3.58), sophomore righty Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.45) and freshman righty Karsten Whitson (7-0, 2.47).

Someone who covers Florida said a likely candidate would be junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis (4-2, 4.65).

“It really won’t change our plan just because our deal is how we match up with their lineup,” Cohen said. “Who they’re going to pitch really won’t affect a whole lot who we pitch.”

• MSU is the only team that won’t practice in Hoover on Tuesday. Cohen said the combination of an early practice time plus a one-hour time limit at Regions Park were the deciding factors on that.

So the Bulldogs will do their usual work both today and Tuesday at Dudy Noble Field.

“What we’d end up having to do if we did practice there at Hoover is spend an hour there and then go to another site and spend an hour or two there,” Cohen said. “We felt like we (practiced at home) before with Ole Miss, and we played very, very well there.”

• I’ll have a story in tomorrow’s Journal examining what it means for both Cohen and MSU to be back in the SEC Tournament, and what’s changed in Hoover since the Bulldogs last visited in 2007.

Cohen had a money quote that you’ll see in that story: “You’re not just taking a positive step, it’s a quantum leap, because you’re vaulting into the national baseball scene by getting to Hoover.”

Click video to hear audio