January 28, 2013 1:02:24 PM
STARKVILLE - The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog was LOOKING LIVE.....at Dudy Noble Field as the Mississippi State University baseball program conducted the final of three preseason scrimmages this weekend on Sunday.
Here's a bulleted list of highlights for the No. 5 Bulldogs in a intra-squad scrimmage Sunday:
In the last two scrimmages, Hunter Renfroe has received an RBI-hit with a solid two-strike, two-out approach on line drives hit up the middle of the field. Clearly these RBI-single hits aren't going to impress the novice fan as much as his classic batting practice show where he tries (and normally accomplishes) to hit the ball 400+ feet over the wall. However, Renfroe is developing a nice short stroke when he's behind in the count and there's two outs. Renfroe, who is coming off an eye-opening 19-home run summer league season with Bethesda, Md., in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League, is clearly taking the approach that MSU head coach John Cohen has pressed on him for three years and will help him put together spring numbers in Starkville that more resemble his gaudy summer numbers.
"I think we're going to be a better offensive club no doubt because we have more options," Cohen said Sunday. "There's a lot of good situational stuff that we're doing right now that I like seeing this early in the season."
Sophomore Will Cox had a lot of life on the fastball and was able to find pinpoint control to get ground ball outs with the changeup and breaking ball pitches and would've gotten out of his first inning if not for two errors at second base by sophomore Matthew Britton. Despite the fielding issues, Cox was able to get through three innings of work in his 40-pitch limit and gave up only two runs (one earned).
Junior Ben Bracewell followed up his Friday outing (which showcased 92-94 miles-per-hour on the fastball) with nice low spin on the breaking ball with temperatures in the low 40s to another solid inning of work Sunday in a relief role. Bracewell sat out the 2011 campaign as a medical redshirt to rehabilitate an injured shoulder and only pitched 1.2 innings against Southeastern Conference opponents last year.
"If we can get two solid outings of Ben Bracewell in a weekend where he has his best stuff then that's certainly something that we didn't have last season," Cohen said.
Senior left-handed Luis Pollorena had two straight perfect innings before MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson pulled the southpaw in a 1-1 count (something he and Cohen love to do in actual games) because of a pitch count but he gave up only one hit throughout his outing. He showed really good movement on his two-seam fastball that even had sophomore first baseman Wes Rea reaching on a strikeout swinging.
The only injury concern coming out of Sunday was sophomore right-hander Trevor Fitts coming down with a serious case of the flu and therefore, the scrimmage had to be cut three innings short because the Helena, Ala., native was scheduled to pitch on that day.
After the scrimmage Sunday, Cohen attempted to calm the concerns about injuries to two projected weekend starting pitchers (senior RHP Kendall Graveman, sophomore RHP Brandon Woodruff). Those two pitchers will be scheduled to face each other Tuesday in a intra-squad scrimmage for the first time this spring.
"Kendall is so far ahead of schedule (after recovering from a sports hernia surgery in the offseason) and these last couple of pens have been outstanding," Cohen said. "I don't think I've seen him throw the way he did in those last two outings."
Tyler Fullerton executed a perfect hit-and-run through the hole in second base with Demarcus Henderson at first base. Henderson's speed could be a major factor in the 2013 season as the junior (a right-hander) ran a 3.85-second time to first base on a bunt single.
It was a rough day for sophomore Matthew Britton as he committed three errors (two at 2b and one at SS) and grounded into a game-ending double play to finish the scrimmage. Not a solid day for Britton, who is competing with at least three other players for the starting role at second base.
After the scrimmage, Cohen said the competition is high at both second and third base positions that could finish with MSU being able to matchup with opponents' bullpen arms with the depth of bats at those two positions. So far MSU has had junior Daryl Norris, junior college transfer Brett Pirtle and redshirt freshman Nick Flair at third base. At second base has been Britton, Canadian freshman Kyle Hann, junior college transfer Alex Detz from California and Pirtle battling for playing time. Flair had a solid double down the left field line in Sunday's scrimmage and could be a major factor at the plate as he prepares for his first season of college baseball after having shoulder surgery in 2012.
"We really have a lot of guys where we're trying to make decisions whether it'll be third base or second base right now," Cohen said. "We still feel like there's great competition right now in those two places.
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.
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