FILE - Mississippi State left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren battled for 4 2/3 innings of work against No. 2 LSU in his first career college start Friday. Photo by: MSU athletics
May 26, 2012 7:24:11 AM
HOOVER, Ala. - After the first inning was completed, Mississippi State University baseball head coach John Cohen was going to talk to his starting pitcher Jacob Lindgren.
He was going to make sure the freshman didn't have that deer-in-headlights look after giving up two runs in a 36-pitch inning against the No. 2 Louisiana State University lineup.
Shortly after Lindgren got into the dugout, Cohen realized he didn't have that conversation. That's what a pitching coach is paid for.
"When he came in that dugout, (MSU pitching coach) Butch Thompson is a very mild mannered guy and Butch had one of those moments with him that a young pitcher can go back and say 'this was a moment for me' because Butch got him to be super aggressive from that moment forward," Cohen said. "Butch told him 'I don't care if you walk 20 guys in a row, you're be aggressive with your breaking ball and fastball because we're going to pitch to both sides and not be a halfhearted thing.' Then he responded as a player, which is incredibly difficult to do."
In front of 9,067 people in Regions Park Friday, Lindgren was making his first college start in his career - an impressive feat when you consider just last week Cohen and the rest of the MSU staff was concerned about stretching him to 68 pitches in Saturday's regular season finale win in Starkville over the University of Kentucky.
"Jacob is a competitor and of course didn't have his best stuff early on by missing out of the zone so badly," MSU catcher Mitch Slauter said. "He was just out there minimizing damage and eventually realized that he was battling his butt off against a great team."
Over the next 3 2/3 innings, Lindgren - a former 12th-round pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Chicago Cubs out of St. Stanislaus High School - allowed just one run on three hits in just 37 pitches more.
"I went out there for one mound visit in the first inning (when he took the line drive off his thigh) to almost remind him of the fact that 'hey you're really good and don't back down from these guys'," Cohen said. "I thought Butch really connected with Jacob and after listening to that I thought 'man that was really adjustment by our pitching coach there' and I was really anxious to see how he'd respond."
Lindgren was arguably one of the two most important recruits for the MSU program along with right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who also turned down significant draft money to play for MSU, after he compiled a 6-2 record and a staff-leading 1.45 ERA as a junior in high school on the Rockachaw's 2010 Class 4A state championship team while registering 69 strikeouts in 43.1 innings and held opponents to a .141 batting average.
"Jacob did today what all of our pitchers do, he competed - plain and simple," Cohen said.
The irony of the entire day was the other major program in the mix for Lindgren services before he verbally committed to MSU as a junior in high school - LSU.
"We just think Jacob has the chance to be really good because when he's aggressive it's just so hard to track the breaking ball and the fastball coming out of his hand," Cohen said. "That combination coming from such a young man could be devastating coming from such a young man."
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