April 11, 2014 11:19:53 PM
STARKVILLE -- Following a 2 hour, 42 minute baseball game, neither Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco or Mississippi State coach John Cohen could agree on what they saw.
Maybe that's why there is a scoreboard to tell the announced crowd of 13,224 at Dudy Noble Field that the Rebels won 6-1.
Ole Miss (28-8, 8-5 in Southeastern Conference) knocked around the Bulldogs ace left-hander Ross Mitchell (5-3) for a career high six earned runs on 13 hits as Rebels used aggressive early contact to get an early lead. Five members of the Ole Miss lineup, which came into Starkville near the top of every offensive category in the SEC, had multiple hits Friday night.
"You have to be prepared against Mitchell to hit anything that is up," Bianco said. "Because he'll get ahead and get you on something low. He's been so good at getting you to swing at stuff in the dirt."
Robinson ended the night 2 for 4 with two runs scored and contributed on both of the Rebels double play efforts in the field. The game plan on what Robinson called "MSU's soft tossing lefty" was to attack strikes in the zone with early contact.
"It's just obvious when you look at stats that when you're hitting something at even or ahead in the count, your odds are so much better at being successful," Robinson said. "If anything was up in the zone, we hit it because we knew we might not see it again."
Cohen didn't see the Ole Miss offensive execution the way the players and coaches wearing red, white and blue did. The Bulldogs sixth-year coach said he saw lucky swings producing base hits against his star left-handed arm.
"What is amazing is when you're getting hits and you're fooled," Cohen said. "You're watching from the side view of the dugout and they're out on their front foot and they get a hit. I mean when that happens (laughing), it's just not your day."
That offensive game plan worked to perfection early as Ole Miss buried MSU in a 3-0 lead after two innings thanks to run-scoring hits from Brantley Bell, Sykes Orvis and Braxton Lee. The lead allowed Rebels ace Chris Ellis (5-0) to settle in and pitch to contact perfectly. The junior from Birmingham, Ala., left the mound with two out in the seventh inning with a 1.81 season ERA after scattering eight hits.
"A lot of what I was about to get out on were fastballs that were down in the zone and they were either trying to lift them or they beat them into the ground," Ellis said. "Either way I was determined to let my guys defend behind me and they did an awesome job."
When asked about the 6-1 loss where the Rebels had more base hits and all of the four extra-base hits in the game, Cohen went back to a refrain that his players had "bad fortune".
MSU (21-14, 6-7) got to the leadoff hitter on base in five of the seven innings Ellis started Friday night but produced just one run on a RBI ground out by Alex Detz where Matthew Britton had to beat out a sure double play at second base.
"It just happens when you hit a ball & nobody is standing where they hit it," Cohen said. "That's just how it works sometimes."
MSU has now lost four SEC games in a row for the first time since 2011.
To describe the offensive woes continuing, Cohen went back to the chart the MSU coaching staff has in its dugout. The chart grades its players on quality at-bats based on the contact they're making at the plate. The problem with that method is it doesn't register on the scoreboard as productive.
"We had nine nine guys with two or more hard hits. Four guys with three or more hard hits," Cohen said. "Sometimes you hit balls right at people."
While watching his team win by five runs, Bianco didn't see the same thing in the visitors dugout.
"I thought Chris had the best stuff he's had in three weeks tonight and really did a good job of not trying to overthrow at any point in the outing," Bianco said. "He really did a great job of composing himself and making them hit the pitches he wanted them to make contact on. He was in control."
Friday night marked the 13th this season MSU has scored three or less runs in a game. The Bulldogs haven't plated more than five runs since March 22 when they defeated Vanderbilt 6-3 after scoring 17 on the Commodores the previous night.
"It's pretty obvious we're struggling to score runs," Cohen said. "I think part of it is pretty bad fortune."
MSU had four starters in the lineup Friday night hitting less than .250 against SEC competition but Cohen said he wasn't dissatisfied with the offensive execution at the plate against arguably Ole Miss' two best arms.
"If you play that exact game, with the number of hard hits we had, we play that game 10 times, we might win a bunch," Cohen said.
Ole Miss will try to clinch its first regular season series at Dudy Noble Field since 2010 when they send sophomore left-hander Christian Trent (4-0, 2.22) to the mound against MSU junior Trevor Fitts (2-2, 3.41) in a 3 p.m. first pitch. The Bulldogs will wear the cream colored adidas throwback jerseys unveiled earlier this week.
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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