Nice catch: West Coast freshman making strides in Starkville

Mississippi State freshman catcher Gavin Collins is hitting .333 against the SEC this season. (Mississippi State)

Mississippi State freshman catcher Gavin Collins is hitting .333 against the SEC this season. (Mississippi State)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Brendan and Shannon Collins had only seen their son, Mississippi State freshman catcher Gavin Collins, play in the Hi Corbett Classic in Tucson, Ariz.

But the couple travelled all the way from Lake Forest, Calif., to visit Starkville and Dudy Noble Field for the first time for the recent Super Bulldog Weekend. The Collins’ witnessed their son become a hero in front of a record crowd of 15,586 in the Saturday contest as Gavin collected the walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Bulldogs a 6-5 win over Ole Miss.

“I just want to thank this crowd,” Collins said afterwards. “15,000-plus, that’s awesome man. With everyone being here, that’s what gave us that extra boost to come back and get that win. That was a big win for us.”

Collins came up big again against the Rebels in the Governor’s Cup on Tuesday going 3-for-3 with two runs batted in.

Collins has been a welcome addition for MSU this season after both backstops graduated after last season. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder has started 26 games behind the plate batting .325 with eight doubles and 11 RBI. Collins has also thrown out nine of the 25 runners who have attempted to steal on him.

“When you get here you’ve got to be ready to roll when you cross the lines,” Collins said. “It’s a quicker pace (than high school) and you’ve got to have high intensity and be focused.”

Collins has played in 14 conference games, hitting .333 with six doubles and five RBI.

“That young man has really, really come forward and done a great job for us behind the plate,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “He’s got a chance to be one of the really good catchers in all of college baseball.”

Collins and the No. 20 Bulldogs will host Texas A&M (25-17, 8-10) tonight at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU. By the time the three-game series is concluded Saturday, State will have played seven games in a nine day span.

“Our kids haven’t played on a Thursday yet this year,” cohen said. “I know that’s going to become more of the way it is as college baseball enters the TV world.”

Friday’s game will also be at 6:30 p.m. while Saturday’s finale is slated for a 2:15 p.m. first pitch on FSN.

MSU (27-15, 10-8) hopes to get Preston Brown back into the weekend pitching rotation on Saturday following a three week absence due to injury.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

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SCHEDULED PITCHERS

Tonight: Texas A&M LHP Tyler Stubblefield (3-1, 3.45) vs. MSU RHP Trevor Fitts (2-2, 3.30)

Friday: Texas A&M RHP Daniel Mengden (2-6, 4.09) vs. MSU LHP Ross Mitchell (6-3, 2.13)

Saturday: Texas A&M RHP Grayson Long (5-1, 2.44) vs. MSU TBA