Duffy carries hot bat into LSU series

Mississippi State’s Ryan Duffy went 3 for 5 with a triple and five RBIs in Tuesday’s 16-9 win over Southern Miss, but he seemed most proud of another statistic.
“I did have a walk,” Duffy said Wednesday.
It was just the fourth walk Duffy has drawn all season, least among MSU’s regulars. His preferred method of reaching base is hacking away, and it’s worked pretty well.
Duffy, a senior left fielder, is second on the team with a .363 batting average to go with nine home runs (second), 37 RBIs (third) and a .645 slugging percentage (second).
He’s had five games of four or more RBIs, most on the team, and he leads the Bulldogs in hitting in SEC games with a .386 average.
“I’m just not trying to do too much,” Duffy said. “You’ve just got to try to stay under control and within yourself.”
He’ll carry that hot bat to Baton Rouge for a season-closing three-game set starting tonight against defending NCAA champion LSU (34-19, 12-15 SEC), which is fighting for a spot in the SEC Tournament field.
“I think he’s just gotten better and better and better as an offensive player,” coach John Cohen said. “I think Ryan has become a factor.”
Duffy will try to help MSU (22-31, 5-22) end a disappointing season with a bang. While LSU owns the 2009 national title, it has struggled, losing 13 of its last 15 and six in a row.
LSU was swept at Kentucky last weekend.
The Tigers were once ranked as high as No. 2 in the country by Baseball America, and Cohen doesn’t think they’ve fallen as far as most observers would believe.
“I think going to Kentucky, especially over the last three or four years, is not a picnic for anybody,” said Cohen, who coached the Wildcats from 2004-08. “That’s a tough place to play, and to say that LSU is struggling is diminishing a little bit what’s going on at Kentucky, or anywhere else in our league.”
The Bulldogs, in their first visit to the new Alex Box Stadium, are looking for their first win against a Western Division opponent. They’re 0-12 so far, but Tuesday’s win against USM should be a boost of confidence.
And there’s the chance to play spoiler, although Cohen said that’s not a motivation.
“Our kids have never stopped competing, and they wanna win because they wanna win,” he said. “I don’t think it’s because they wanna play spoiler or anything else.”
Duffy has embodied the no-quit spirit of this team. He’s a fiery sort, as evidence by the abuse he meted out to a water cooler after a loss earlier this year.
“Ryan has kind of a zest for life,” Cohen said. “He is a loose-type personality, and I think he wants to win as much as any of our other seniors.”

Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571
or brad.locke@djournal.com.

Miss. State @ LSU
– Tonight: 7 p.m.
– Friday: 7 p.m.
– Saturday: 3 p.m. (CSS TV)
Pitching rotations
– Tonight: Mississippi State LHP Tyler
Whitney (0-3, 6.31) vs. LSU RHP Joey
Bourgeois (4-1, 6.28)
– Friday: Mississippi State RHP Chris
Stratton (4-3, 5.80) vs. LSU Anthony
Ranaudo (2-2, 9.09)
– Saturday: Mississippi State TBA vs.
LSU RHP Austin Ross (3-4, 5.27)DUFFY

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal