February 27, 2013 4:49:25 AM
STARKVILLE - The reason Mississippi State senior left-handed pitcher Chad Girodo looks different on the mound in his final season is because everything has in fact changed except the hand he is throwing the ball with. The arm slot is changed as he has gone to a ¾ delivery. His repertoire now has more diversity with a slider and a changeup coming from that new arm slot. Then finally most importantly, the confidence of a pitcher that has a keen understanding where the ball is going and how to attack hitters is something unique to Girodo's game as well.
"What (MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson) has enabled him to do with that lower arm slot is allow him to get down the mound a lot better and what that does is make his deception and movement that's already there even more dangerous," MSU coach John Cohen said.
The senior southpaw worked three innings to earn his second win of the 2013 season while striking out six and giving up his first hit of the 2013 campaign in MSU's 13-2 victory over the University of Rhode Island Tuesday night at Dudy Noble Field.
"With the wind blowing out of the ballpark like it was tonight, I really had to focus on getting to the bottom of the strikeout and was really proud of myself for being able to do that so many times in a row," Girodo said.
The MSU victory and a University of Mississippi loss to the University of Memphis less than a hour later results in the Bulldogs being the final undefeated team left in the Southeastern Conference. MSU is one of 12 undefeated teams left in Division I college baseball.
Girodo (2-0) spent the summer working out his issues as a member of the San Luis Obispo Blues' bullpen in the California Collegiate League. The 6-foot-1, 195-prospect found a level of success since being named to the Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger High School All-America team as a senior at Hartselle (Ala.) High School. Girodo compiled a 1-0 record with a save, 44 strikeouts and a team-best 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with the Blues this past summer.
"It's one thing for Coach Thompson to say 'here's what we want to do' and it's quite another for the kid to accept it and want to do it," Cohen said. "That's exactly what Chad did."
Girodo is now part of a dominant bullpen that has allowed just four earned runs in 40 2/3 innings in the early part of the season. He was part of a left-handed duo with starting pitcher Luis Pollorena that confused Rhode Island (0-7) for nine total strikeouts and allowing just six hits. In a game that saw temperatures not reach 40 degrees, the MSU left-handed veterans allowed the Bulldogs (10-0) to save the effort of its pitching staff for the weekend.
According to Cohen, Pollorena was given his first start of the 2013 season and 10th of his career a day ahead of sophomore right-hander Brandon Woodruff due to the cold weather and the strategy that suggests Pollorena could be physically available for relief duty by Saturday when St. Joseph's University come to Dudy Noble Field this weekend.
MSU used a seven-run opening inning to make the life of Rhode Island starting pitcher Milan Mantle (0-1) completely miserable. The Bulldogs had 10 batters walk to the plate and the first seven members of the lineup got a hit before Mantle recorded an out. Mantle, a junior right-hander, started the day with an ERA of 27.00 and that's exactly how he'd finish after allowing eight runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
The Rams continue its gauntlet schedule of quality opponents after they opened the season at Florida State University, the University of Mississippi and with two games in Starkville against the Bulldogs.
After a game that included three errors and eight scoreless innings of offense, Rhode Island coach Jim Foster kept his players in a huddle for a high intensity verbal confrontation for nearly an hour after the loss.
"Rhode Island is a good club now that finished second in their league last year and our kids understand they've opened up with Florida State, Ole Miss and now Mississippi State," Cohen said. "I don't know anybody in the country that would want to start off a season with Florida State, Ole Miss and us. That tells me Jim thinks highly of his team by doing that at the beginning of the year."
Alex Detz continued to more than adequately replace the rather large production of sophomore co-captain Wes Rea at first base and the middle of the MSU lineup. Detz, who is from California said it's unlikely he has played in temperatures as cold as Dudy Noble Field felt with the 20 mile-per-hour winds felt Tuesday night. It didn't however stop his offensive production as he was 2-for-3 Tuesday night with three RBIs and a run scored.
"We had a lot of guys play first base in the fall and he was not one of them and afterwards we decided we needed a left-handed option at first base," Cohen said. "Basically (MSU assistant coach Nick Mingione) did first base lessons with him everyday for a month."
Detz is now hitting .381 (8-for-21) with 10 RBIs and seven walks since taking over at first base for Rea as he continues to deal with a nagging quad injury.
"I was really surprised to see more fastballs today because with the success I've been having I keep waiting and preparing for people to try to go off-speed on me," Detz said. "I try not think about playing time but I was hoping to get opportunities and that's just what happened."
Both teams will meet again today at Dudy Noble Field with Woodruff expected to get the baseball on the mound first for the Bulldogs for his second start of the season.
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.
1. W to host provocative exhibition of contemporary art ENTERTAINMENT
3. MSU to hold Freedom Summer Conference COMMUNITY