Mississippi State head baseball coach John Cohen was less than pleased at the effort given in Wednesday's loss to Memphis. Photo by: Courtesy of MSU athletics
March 1, 2012 7:30:00 AM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University baseball coach John Cohn knew immediately this 6-5 decision was lost between the ears.
Whether it was the inability to take advantage of very hitter-friendly pitches by Memphis starting pitcher Chase Joiner or the two errors in the field, the last of which allowed the game-winning run to cross home plate in the ninth inning, the Bulldogs showcased mental breakdowns throughout Wednesday evening at Dudy Noble Field.
"They were not locked in during the early part of the game and that's pretty disappointing," Cohen said. "That's exactly what we're about to go talk about right now so we don't have this happen anymore."
Memphis (4-4) came out of the two hour, 48 minute rain delay finding the barrel of the bat on MSU starting pitcher Luis Pollorena.
"We've got veterans in that part of team in the everyday lineup," Memphis coach Daron Schoenrock said. "I expected them to (hit well) after being forced to sit around and wait out the rain."
It would take till the third inning for the Tigers to finally plate runs against Pollorena after a double and a fielding error ended the left-hander's evening just 37 pitches in to his outing. The southpaw gave up three hits and two runs among the nine batters he faced and did not get one strikeout.
"Life is about opportunities and when you're given those opportunities - you need to make the most of them," Cohen said. "(Pollorena) was given a great opportunity tonight and it just didn't happen for him. It didn't come out of his hand very well."
Britton, who is hitting .231 in the first six games of his college career, was replaced in the next half-inning by junior walk-on Sam Frost.
"(Britton) is going to get many opportunities after this to play but there's a lot of competition on this club and when guys are given those opportunities, they need to be treasured as golden," Cohen said. "That's just not happening with our club right now."
The Britton-for-Frost substitution would later turn out to be so key by leaving MSU (6-2) in a precarious situation as Frost, a career .230 hitter with 10 extra-base hits in 161 at-bats, was asked to simply provide a fly ball with one out in the eighth inning to produce the lead run. Frost, a walk-on from Hoover, Ala., struck out looking on four pitches.
Four straight MSU batters reached base in the eighth inning on Gant culminating with a two-RBI double down the left field line and the first career home run by freshman first baseman Wes Rea to tie the score at 6-6. Rea took a fastball in a 2-0 hitter's count deep over the left-centerfield wall with a 400-foot smash.
After getting out of the jam tied, Memphis got the game-winning run on a catcher's interference play with the bases loaded with MSU All-American reliever Caleb Reed (0-2) on the mound.
"The kid either meant to do it, which if he did is a brilliant play on his part because that's a bringing a run home in a critical situation," Cohen said.
MSU will next take to Dudy Noble Field when they play the University of Connecticut Friday with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The Bulldogs will send sophomore right-hander Ben Bracewell (0-0, 0.00) to the mound for his third start in 2012.
Memphis (4-4) 6,
Mississipppi State (6-2) 5
W - Jonathan Van Eaton (1-0) 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
L - Caleb Reed (0-2) IP, H, R, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K
Most Valuable Player: Memphis starting pitcher Chase Joiner - Joiner, who was making his first career Division 1 start on the mound after struggling in two relief appearances this season, held down the MSU lineup to just two runs on six hits over seven innings in a 97-pitch effort. The fifth-year senior transfer from John A. Logan Community College saw his earned run average go from 11.57 entering Starkville to 6.48 as he left Polk-Dement Stadium after the seventh frame.
Memphis senior 3B Jacob Wilson (4-for-4, HR, 4 RBI) - Was one of five Tigers had two or more hits and was a triple away from the cycle. Broke open the game in the fifth inning with a towering two-run shot into Left Field Lounge off MSU reliever Chad Girodo.
Turning Point: The two hour, 48 minute rain delay before first pitch - Memphis pounded out six of the first eight runs before Mississippi State stopped making mental errors at the plate and in the field following the delay.
"No doubt," Cohen said when asked if mental errors cost MSU a sixth consecutive victory. "We're going to get it right before we leave the park tonight,"
Numbers of the day - 4 - Amount of hits and RBIs Memphis senior third baseman Jacob Wilson
accounted for Wednesday afternoon
5 - Amount of multi-hit games for MSU sophomore infielder Adam Frazier
in 8 games so far in 2012.
6 - Number of pitchers MSU used Wednesday night.
11 - Amount of runs scored by MSU in the eighth innings only this
season. The next highest frame total are the 4th and 5th with 8.
168 - amount of minutes the start of the game was delayed due storms
moving in through Starkville Wednesday.
Next game: Friday, 6:30 p.m. vs. University of Connecticut
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. A Microhistory of Religious Conflict BOOK REVIEWS