Mississippi State junior Ross Mitchell took the loss Sunday night after lasting just three innings in his shortest outing of the 2013 season.
June 2, 2014 9:33:03 AM
LAFAYETTE, La. -- Mississippi State coach John Cohen tried to protect his ace left-hander as much he could but eventually said he could see an outing like this happening.
Cohen said Sunday night following an embarrassing 14-8 blowout loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in a championship game of NCAA Lafayette Regional that Ross Mitchell had been experiencing arm soreness that has led him to not having his best mechanics the last few weeks.
"He had some soreness and I'm not sure he could've pitched (Saturday)," Cohen said. "He was probably working through some of that tonight but he's competed so hard and been so good for us all season."
Mitchell's three-inning outing Sunday night was his shortest start of the 2013 season and ULL (56-8) was able to square up any of this pitches for hard contact that resulted in three extra base hits including a home run.
"His one-seamer had no sink and none of his stuff was down in the zone as much as normally is," Cohen said.
Mitchell (8-5) struggled in last start before heading to Lafayette, Louisiana for the NCAA tournament as he allowed four runs after just 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision during a 12-inning loss to Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference tournament. In that start in Hoover, Alabama, Mitchell was unable to slow down the hot bats of an aggressive Kentucky lineup that led the SEC in many offensive categories throughout the 2013 season. In a similar mode to that UK game plan, ULL was able to rattle Mitchell for six runs over just three innings. Constantly MSU catcher Gavin Collins would try to make short trips to the mound to gauge Mitchell's comfort level but even a mound visit from Cohen didn't stop the Ragin' Cajuns offensive onslaught.
"We knew we had to just stay back and make sure we stayed patient against their soft-tossing lefty," ULL outfielder Seth Harrison said. "We knew that if he came in the zone with anything that we had the opportunity to make them pay and we did that earlier on him."
Before the league tournament Mitchell had given up more than two earned runs in a start only once as Ole Miss knocked the lefty around for six runs and 13 hits over 8 2/3 innings in a 6-1 loss at Dudy Noble Field.
Mitchell hasn't been deactivated from any scheduled weekend starts since being put in the rotation at the start of the SEC play mid-March. However, Mitchell's starts have been moved around constantly in the three days of a weekend to coincide with the maximum amount of rest possible for the junior left-hander.
"I don't think Ross was his normal self tonight (because) I thought he was overthrowing," Cohen said. "I really thought he was trying to invent some stuff and create more velocity than he normally does. Hopefully he gets another chance to pitch in this NCAA tournament."
Mix the physical issues of Mitchell with the competitiveness of the ULL lineup and the result is a terrible matchup for the Bulldogs in a game where they were hoping to advance to its third Super Regional round since 2011. The 14-8 win over MSU Sunday that followed an 11-1 victory over Jackson State ran ULL's record to 16-1 this season against a left-handed starting pitcher.
MSU will try to break that streak tonight by sending Lucas Laster (0-0, 1.97) to the mound and having All-SEC first-team selection Jacob Lindgren ready to pitch in relief.
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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