February 24, 2013 7:04:04 PM
STARKVILLE - All signs for Will Cox's development point to the positive after a quality start, the second of his career, in leading Mississippi State University to an 8-1 victory over Samford University.
"The biggest thing that's different about him is his changeup because (MSU pitching coach) Butch Thompson was on a mission to get him a effective changeup. He now has a two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball and a changeup. Anytime you talk to big leaguers, changing speeds is everything."
Cox finished Sunday afternoon with seven innings, tying his longest career outing, and allowed just two hits and one run over 80 pitches.
The third career win for Will Cox consisted of the sophomore retiring 17 Samford batters in a row and the only mistake was a fastball left up in the zone for a solo home run by Phillip Ervin on his 69th pitch of the afternoon.
"They love to swing and that played right into the game plan for Ammirati and I calling the game all day long," Cox said. "Our defense is special so I wanted to let them work. It's so awesome to watch them from where I am."
The small picture win for MSU is Cox's outing Sunday allows the bullpen to be rested for a pair of mid-week contests against the University of Rhode Island Tuesday and Wednesday at Dudy Noble Field (4 p.m. both games). The big picture win for Cox is his performance leaves room to consider him for a weekend rotation slot in Southeastern Conference play if of the major candidates such as Evan Mitchell or Kendall Graveman continues to struggle or get injured in this first month.
"Will was just so efficient today and his outstanding outing today allowed us to do so many different things during a tough stretch for us," MSU coach John Cohen said.
MSU (9-0) scored seven runs in the fourth and fifth innings Sunday making it a short outing for Samford's first two pitchers Patrick McGavin and Cole Limbaugh. Junior shortstop Adam Frazier has had sixth multi-hit game of the 2013 season including a double and RBI-triple in the fourth.
With the middle of the order thump due to nagging injuries, MSU junior Alex Detz got a career-high three hits and three RBIs in the seventh spot of the lineup. Detz has gotten seven straight starts at first base, a position he played for the first time in his life three weeks ago during the final spring scrimmages, due to the quad injury to sophomore Wes Rea. The California native batted .324 with a .451 on-base percentage in 2012 for Cuesta (Calif.) College to earn a spot on a Division 1 roster. Since getting the start last Saturday, Detz is hitting .316 w/ 7 RBIs, 2 doubles, 7 walks and hasn't recorded an error defensively.
"I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable over there but I think (Wes) will get back pretty soon so that'll be good for everybody," Detz said. "I'll play wherever as long as I'm in the lineup."
Junior Hunter Renfroe was kept out of the lineup Sunday after being hit by a pitch in the hand the previous day. The junior outfielder, who leads MSU with two home runs (2) and RBI (9), had a wrap on his hand in the dugout and Cohen said after the win Sunday he will have the hand x-rayed by team physicians this week.
Samford (5-4) defeated MSU twice in the 2012 Tallahassee Regional to end the SEC Tournament champion's season and the team from Starkville outscored them 16-3 in two matchups in the 2013 Diamond Classic at Dudy Noble Field.
With the victory MSU becomes one of two SEC teams still left unbeaten in the 2013 season with the other being rival University of Mississippi. MSU is halfway to the school's longest winning streak of 18, which the 2006 team started the campaign with but then managed to lose 17 of 29 conference games.
MSU will give sophomore right hander Brandon Woodruff his second start of the season against Rhode Island Tuesday with the option of either senior left hander Luis Pollorena in relief that game or starting the following day against the Rams.
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.
2. Dunkelberg takes to the fiddle for upcoming show ENTERTAINMENT
5. Sounds of Summer set for June 9 kickoff ENTERTAINMENT