March 16, 2013 9:54:34 PM
STARKVILLE - What the Mississippi State University coaching staff has right now with their pitchers is failure to communicate.
Friday night the message was don't let LSU power hitter Mason Katz beat them. Saturday night the message was don't let Katz beat them and don't try to do too much or something you aren't capable of.
Both nights have gone down as complete failures to obey the directive of the coaches to the MSU pitchers.
Louisiana State University senior first baseman Mason Katz managed to produce another home run against the Bulldogs again after hitting two shots out of Dudy Noble Field the previous night.
Katz took a first-inning fastball from MSU starting pitcher Evan Mitchell deep over the trailers at left field lounge to start the scoring for LSU in a 7-1 victory over the No. 13 Bulldogs Saturday night.
The bomb off the right-hander's bat marked his seventh home run in the last five games as Katz was leading the Southeastern Conference in slugging percentage at .818. Seven home runs is more than combined totals for five SEC programs through the first month and a half of the 2013 season.
Mitchell became the latest frustration of the MSU pitching rotation as he was pulled from the game after just four completed innings and 69 pitches. Thanks to a pair of errors and three walks, Mitchell was unable to get through six innings. Only one MSU pitcher has been able to last through six completed innings this month and that was accomplished by sophomore Jacob Lindgren on March 1.
"I was getting behind in the counts later in the game which I guess caused me to come out of the game earlier than I like," Evan Mitchell said. "They got hitters up and down this lineup and when Katz is hitting fifth, you know they're dangerous."
On the next batter after MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson removed Evan Mitchell (0-1) from the game, LSU's JaCoby Jones added to the offensive damage with a two-RBI double to the right-center gap in the fifth inning. Jones, a Richton native who was the 2010 Louisville Slugger Mississippi player of the year selection, deposited an off speed offering from sophomore left-hander Ross Mitchell into the outfield as two LSU runners slid into home together.
Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman got in on the offensive explosion with a three-run home run off redshirt freshman right-hander Preston Brown. Just three pitches into his first SEC appearance, Brown served the No. 3 hitter in the LSU order a belt-high curveball that was taken deep over the left field wall sending most of the announced attendance of 9,341 home early.
"(MSU pitching coach) Butch Thompson goes out there and we got first base and we tell him to work outside the zone, sink it, move it but do not throw a breaking ball," MSU coach John Cohen said. "The next pitch he throws a breaking ball and it leaves the yard. You got a freshman that really struggled with listening and hasn't thrown a curveball since he arrived here at Mississippi State."
LSU starting pitcher Ryan Eades (4-0) lowered his rotation-leading ERA from 1.80 to 1.69 by controlling MSU's lineup to just six hits in seven innings. Eades, who is a highly touted prospect for the 2013 MLB draft this June because of velocity and his numbers over the last two off-seasons in the Cape Cod League, had eight strikeouts in seven innings that consisted of 108 pitches.
The victory was the 12th in a row for the Tigers, who are
Trey Porter was the only form of consistency at the plate Saturday for MSU as the senior designated hitter had back-to-back doubles increasing his hit streak to four consecutive games. Porter, who was 3 for 4 Saturday with his first three-hit game of the season, came to the ballpark with just two extra-base hits in 43 at-bats.
The 7-8-9 spots of the MSU order, which have consisted of seven players, is currently 2 for 23 this weekend.
"We're going to put some guys at the bottom of the lineup that can contribute but right now they're just not and that's a fact," Cohen said. "We still feel good about having the right athletes and need some guys to get some experience."
With the victory Saturday, No. 7 LSU (18-1, 2-0) clinched its seventh consecutive series victory over the Bulldogs and fifth straight in Starkville dating back a decade. Cohen's record as a coach of a SEC program against LSU fell to 10-16.
MSU (18-4, 0-2) will try to avoid getting swept by the Tigers since 2008 when they send senior right-hander Kendall Graveman (1-1, 2.61) to the mound. The last time LSU swept MSU in Starkville was 1975 in a four-game series. LSU will counter today with sophomore Cody Glenn (3-0, 0.73). In his last appearance against LSU, Graveman threw a complete game allowing just one run in a 101-pitches.
"We need him desperately to get a ton of ground balls and hopefully that exactly what he'll do for us," Cohen said.
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.
5. Works in Wood exhibit opens today in West Point ENTERTAINMENT