March 19, 2009
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- It really didn''t surprise Mississippi State baseball coaches John Cohen and Butch Thompson to see Ryan Powers'' hot hitting against the Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday night.
Thompson had already told Cohen how Powers was swinging the bat in pregame batting practice.
"Butch came up to me and said (Powers'') approach is so much better than it was in the fall and he''s really worked at it," Cohen said. "He''s not going to hit a lot of home runs, but he is really focused and he has gotten some big hits already this year."
Powers might not hit many out of the park, but he did Wednesday.
Powers'' three-run shot in the fifth was one of his three hits that helped lift MSU past UAB 8-4 at Dudy Noble Field.
Powers'' first career home run helped MSU (13-6) take a 4-3 lead.
Powers said extra batting practice after the Hawaii trip has been a key.
"I''ve spent a lot of time in the cage with the coaches and made a few minor adjustments," Powers said. "I have been hitting a lot better since."
After gaining the advantage, Grant Hogue''s three-run triple in the sixth that provided some breathing room.
UAB coach Brian Shoop, an assistant coach at MSU from 1983-89, was disappointed his pitching staff walked eight and that six of them scored.
"When you walk eight people, you lose. It''s pretty simple," Shoop said. "We were pitching (several on the) staff. For a lot of these guys, they haven''t played in this venue and environment. You try to prepare them, and it''s the same game whether it''s in the parking lot or a beautiful stadium like this."
After the Blazers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a two-run home run by Cody McMurry, the Bulldogs answered when Russ Sneed grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to score Hogue.
UAB went back in front by two runs after Jonathan Merritt walked and scored in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk to McMurry.
Powers'' shot came in the fifth. He noticed the Blazers'' pitchers were struggling with their control, but he said it was up to the Bulldogs to take advantage.
"Our strategy is to put pressure on the defense," Powers said. "I think we did a pretty good job with that. It was a full team effort."
Powers was the only MSU player with multiple hits, the fourth time he has done that in his career. Hogue''s triple and Powers'' homer were the only extra-base hits.
Drew Hollinghead started on the mound for MSU. Jared Wesson, Lee Swindle, and Devin Jones followed him to the mound. Swindle (1-1), of Eupora, worked two innings to get the victory.
Cohen and Thompson were concerned their pitchers walked eight batters, too.
"We''re just not attacking the strike zone," Cohen said. "We''ve got to do better than that if we are to compete in the SEC."
MSU will travel to Georgia for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
NOTES: The victory was MSU''s 14th in a row against UAB. ... Hogue''s sixth-inning triple was the first of his career. ... Former MSU coach Ron Polk wore No. 35 as the volunteer assistant for UAB. He wore No. 1 in 29 seasons as coach of the Bulldogs. ... The attendance was announced at 2,044.