By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Luis Pollorena is trying to regain his pitching form. If he can pitch against Ole Miss the way he has in the past, he’ll have found something.
The senior left-hander will be on the mound tonight when No. 21 Mississippi State opens a three-game series at Swayze Field. Pollorena (6-2, 3.92 ERA) will be matched up against Ole Miss ace Bobby Wahl (9-0, 1.21 ERA), who MSU coach John Cohen said might be the best Friday starter in the league.
On paper, the matchup favors Wahl. But Pollorena has had nothing but success against the Rebels in his career, posting a 2.60 ERA with 14 strikeouts and two walks 171⁄3 innings. This will be his fourth appearance, with three starts, against Ole Miss (33-16, 12-12 SEC) .
“I usually don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Pollorena said, “but right now I feel like I’m going to use everything I can, and knowing that history is on my side, the confidence is there knowing that I’ve had a good amount of success.”
Pollorena hasn’t had much success lately. Over his last three starts, he’s given up 11 earned runs in 151⁄3 innings, for an ERA of 6.46. He’s walked eight batters over that span and has issued a team-high 30 walks on the season.
“It’s an odd thing for me to be giving up so many walks, so that’s something we’ve been working on and taking off velocity and working on percentage, early command in the strike zone. We feel like we’ve done a lot of improvement on that, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Finding the strike zone early in the game has been the main issue, and Pollorena looked at film with pitching coach Butch Thompson on Monday to find a fix. He’s also trying to regain command of his changeup.
“His whole deal is he just can’t have big misses,” Cohen said. “When he doesn’t have big misses, he’s good.”
This will be the seventh SEC start of the season for Pollorena, forced into weekend starting duty because of Evan Mitchell’s ineffectiveness and an injury to Jacob Lindgren. Lindgren is now the Sunday starter.
Pollorena has been most effective during his career as along reliever, but Cohen likes his competitiveness and believes it translates well to a Friday night role. Pollorena knows what’s needed of him, especially in a series like this one.
If MSU (36-13, 13-11) can take the series, that would greatly aid its quest to host an NCAA regional for the first time in 10 years.
“I don’t feel like I’ve done what I’m supposed to,” Pollorena said, “but right now I’ve got to be able to go out there and compete this Friday and give my team at least a good quality five or six innings and see how it goes from there.”