By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi State’s starting pitching has had its ups and downs this season, but John Cohen is trying to keep a steady hand on it.
The No. 22-ranked Bulldogs (33-13, 10-11 SEC) had a rough weekend in nearly every facet, getting swept by No. 2 Vanderbilt in Nashville. The series ended with an 8-3 loss Sunday, with MSU starter Jacob Lindgren giving up five runs in two-thirds of an inning before exiting.
“He threw a ton of belt-high fastballs, and that’s not his identity,” Cohen said. “He knows that. Boy, his last couple of starts have been phenomenal, and this one was not. That happens to everybody.”
Cohen said he won’t let one bad outing shake his confidence in Lindgren (4-2, 3.47 ERA), who in his previous three outings had an ERA of 2.08.
“The one hiccup on Sunday there doesn’t change our coaching staff’s feelings about Jacob,” he said.
On the weekend, State’s starters had an ERA of 6.92, and the staff as a whole posted a 4.50. For the season, the team ERA is 2.46.
The offense didn’t provide much help, scoring a total of six runs and stranding 28 baserunners.
Cohen plans no changes to the rotation for this weekend’s home series against Alabama (27-18, 11-9). So it will be Luis Pollorena on Friday, Kendall Graveman on Saturday and Lindgren on Sunday.
MSU signed four junior college players prior to this season, and three of them are not only playing regularly, but contributing in big ways.
Infielder Alex Detz, second baseman Brett Pirtle and outfielder Derrick Armstrong are hitting a combined .303 this season. Pirtle, who’s been batting in the clean-up spot lately, is third on the team in hitting at .308 and has 20 RBIs. Detz is batting .299 with 26 RBIs.
Armstrong has been used mostly in backup and situational roles, and he’s hitting .300 with eight RBIs, nine runs scored and three stolen bases. And all three are turning in some strong defensive play, with a combined fielding percentage of .986.
“I don’t know if anybody ever really adjusts quickly to Southeastern Conference baseball, but they certainly have. That’s important,” Cohen said.
“The thing about Detz, just as an example, Detz could be hitting .400 right now. I’ve never seen a guy hit as many line drives at people as Alex Detz has this year.”
MSU wore special-edition hats on April 18 against Auburn in support of the Boston Marathon bombing victims.
Instead of an MSU logo, the maroon hats sported a ‘B’ in the style of the Boston Red Sox.
The school then put 24 of those hats up for auction to raise support for the One Fund Boston charity. According to a team spokesman, all 24 hats were bought, for a total of $25,441.
As of Monday afternoon, the charity’s website, onefundboston.org, listed a donation total of more than $27 million.