By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Even as his team seems to turn a corner, John Cohen keeps a wary eye on the training room.
His Mississippi State squad finally won an SEC series with an 8-7 walk-off win Sunday over Vanderbilt. Daryl Norris, who had missed 17 games due to a knee injury, capped a strong return to the lineup with the game-winning RBI double.
The sophomore third baseman still isn’t at full speed, so he was limited to a designated hitter role in all three games. He went 6 for 10 with four RBIs.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that our win-loss record looks a little bit different if he’s involved in every one of those games,” Cohen said. “That’s how it works. He’s special.
“He’s playing on one knee. He can’t run very well at all, and he can’t move laterally. He’s a difference-maker.”
back to work
Also welcome sights over the weekend were Brent Brownlee (knee), who had returned the prior weekend and had a clutch pinch-hit in Friday’s win; and outfielder/pitcher Taylor Stark (hamstring), who got some work on the mound Saturday and Sunday.
Also, outfielder C.T. Bradford (shoulder) is playing in pain, and starting pitcher Ben Bracewell (elbow) sat out the weekend.
The Bulldogs (20-12) play host to South Alabama (12-20) at 6:30 p.m. today, and Cohen’s dilemma is whether to put some of the ailing players on the field or let them rest.
“We’re kind of having to nurse this thing, and everybody’s on a day-by-day,” Cohen said. “It’s even a concern when Daryl Norris gets the game-winning hit, and everybody’s running out there to him, they forget his knee’s bothering him, and you’re worried about them jumping on top of him and putting pressure on that knee.”
Freshman right-hander Brandon Woodruff (0-0, 4.91 ERA) will start on the mound tonight for State. South Alabama will start junior righty Payton Gardner (0-2, 8.05).