MSU baseball coach John Cohen called the 12-inning loss to Vanderbilt University Saturday his "responsibility". MSU was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Photo by: MSU athletics
April 7, 2012 10:56:58 PM
STARKVILLE - The Mississippi State University baseball team ran itself out of and couldn't execute specialty situational hitting in a 4-3 12-inning loss Saturday evening against Vanderbilt University.
MSU coach John Cohen counted five separate situations where MSU (19-12, 4-7 in Southeastern Conference) swung and missed on 3-1 pitches with runners on base. This inability to put the baseball in play led to the Bulldogs being a dreadful 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against Commodores pitching.
After the defeat that saw two MSU players get caught stealing by quite a wide margin at second base, Cohen refused to deny his philosophy doesn't work in arguably the best league in all of college baseball.
"You know you're going to get a fastball in a 3-1 count and if the pitch is out of the zone, you talk your walk," Cohen said Saturday. "It's not that difficult and it's something we'll do every time because you have to put pressure on the pitcher and the defense. You just have to."
In the fifth inning, freshman second baseman Phillip Casey missed a 3-1 fastball from Vanderbilt starting pitcher Tyler Beede allowing Commodores catcher Spencer Navin to throw out MSU designated hitter Daryl Norris by at least four steps at second base. Norris had just executed the Bulldogs first hit of the game off Beede to get on first base with the game still scoreless.
"We didn't execute any of the hit and runs or stuff where we try to put guys in motion well at all today," MSU sophomore outfielder Hunter Renfroe said. "We just haven't gotten the hits we need in key situations to turn this around. We talk about it but we never do it."
Norris is currently nursing a severe kneecap injury and Cohen said after the game there's any way he would have the 226-pound infielder trying to steal without two healthy legs.
Cohen immediately replaced Casey, who struck out looking on the very next pitch of the at-bat, with freshman Matthew Britton for the mental error.
"That's a hit-and-run there and Phillip will one day learn how to execute in that situation but he's just not there yet," Cohen said.
A three-run, sixth inning for Vanderbilt was started by MSU centerfielder C.T. Bradford's two errors on one play leading to Vanderbilt two-hole hitter Anthony Gomez eventually ending up on third base. Commordores right fielder Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame selection Carl Yastrzemski, singled Gomez home for the early 1-0 lead. The inning would be blown open when soft-hitting Vince Conde, who came to Starkville hitting .204 on the season, doubled home two runs to give 18-year-old starting pitcher Tyler Beede some cushion.
"He was really good on the mound and I'll give him that today," MSU sophomore outfielder Hunter Renfroe said. "It was his day today and he went out and took it. He's going to be great."
The errors on Bradford where he allowed the fly ball to pop out of his glove and then kicked the ball around the outfield once it fell to the ground were the first and second blunders of his season.
"We just had a mental lapse there with one of the best outfielders we have in the SEC but it happens to all of us," Renfroe said. "Everybody misses a ball but I don't think that cost us the game. We left too many guys on base today. That's the story."
Beede turned down $2.5 million as the 21st overall pick from Toronto Blue Jays in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt University and MSU fans would much rather the 6-foot-4 prospect be working his way to double-A right now instead of pitching in the Southeastern Conference.
Beede got MSU hitters out in front all afternoon long with a dominating changeup that fooled the Bulldogs lineup even when the freshman right-hander was behind in counts.
"He's the first guy to throw that with confidence behind in counts," Renfroe said. "When somebody is that good and they're on like that, you take what he gives you and today that wasn't much."
Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, Beede touched 95 miles-per-hour on his fastball and didn't even use his developing slider that MLB scouts want to see before he's draft eligible in two and a half years."
"His bread and butter is his changeup, and he's getting used to pitching with his fastball more," pitching coach Derek Johnson told Baseball America. "Once he does that, his velocity will spike. I'm not worried about his velocity. I thought the breaking ball was just a very average third pitch when he got to us, but I think it's a much more usable pitch now. It's a true curveball; he's worked hard on it. He's got everything but experience."
After getting his first SEC win last weekend against the University of South Carolina, Beede shut dominated for six innings allowing just one run on two hits in an extremely efficient 84-pitch no-decision effort. Beede didn't allow a base hit until the fifth inning and the Bulldogs had just four swings take the baseball out of the infield.
When Beede left the game in the seventh inning, the score was 3-0 and allowed Vanderbilt (13-18, 4-7) the cushion they needed to pick up its first road win of the 2012 season after eight straight losses.
The 10th inning of play is where nobody wearing a MSU uniform seemed to understand what was happening in the moment. In another count, MSU outfielder C.T. Bradford, who had already cost his team a run with two errors on one play in the 6th inning, swung and missed a breaking ball out of the strike zone. Sophomore Demarcus Henderson, who was pinch running for catcher Mitch Slauter, took off from first base but pulled up when he didn't see contact at the plate to be thrown out by at least two steps.
"Yeah, they're not hit-and-runs because at 3-1 you can take the pitch - that's the luxury," Cohen said. "What you're doing there if you have experienced hitters that know what you're doing there, you're forcing the pitcher to hurry his delivery because he knows you're running."
Cohen executes what is seemingly a risky move because it allows a runner on first base to potentially score on a base hit in the outfield gap because he's already taken off after the pitch.
"What is happening with our lineup right now is they're unable to take these concepts and do them in a game," Cohen said. "That's my job and we have to do that to win baseball games."
Vanderbilt (13-18, 4-7) 4
Mississippi State (19-12, 4-7) 3, 12 innings
W - Will Clinard (3-1) 3.1 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 62 pitches
L - Jacob Lindgren (1-1) 2.1 IP, H, R, 2 BB, K, 35 pitches
Most Valuable Player: Vanderbilt freshman starting pitcher Tyler Beede
Turning Point: 6th inning - A three-run, sixth inning for Vanderbilt was started by MSU centerfielder C.T. Bradford's two errors on one play leading to Vanderbilt two-hole hitter Anthony Gomez eventually ending up on third base. Commordores right fielder Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame selection Carl Yastrzemski, singled Gomez home for the early 1-0 lead. The inning would be blown open when soft-hitting Vince Conde, who came to Starkville hitting .204 on the season, doubled home two runs to give 18-year-old starting pitcher Tyler Beede some cushion.
Numbers of the day
21 - Number of players MSU used in the 12-inning loss. Bulldogs are allowed 27 on the active roster for conference games.
0 - Number of errors sophomore outfielder C.T. Bradford had before the two errors on one play leading to a three-run sixth inning for Vanderbilt.
.204 - What the 6-9 hitters in Vanderbilt's lineup came into Saturday's game hitting combined. Each of them got a hit in the Commordores first road win of the season.
35 - Number of days since Taylor Stark's last appearance on the mound. The sophomore, who is still nursing a severe hamstring injury, threw 1 2/3 innings allowing just one hit in relief Saturday.
Next game: Easter Sunday, 1:30 p.m. vs. Vanderbilt
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