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MSU notebook: Mitchell struggles early; Randall atones for loss in Starkville

 

David Miller

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Evan Mitchell''s hot-hand turned ice cold Friday against the Florida Gators. 

 

The Mississippi State freshman right-hander had the worst start of his career in the opening game of the NCAA Super Regional at Gainesville, giving up seven earned runs on five hits in just two innings of work in MSU''s 11-1 loss to Florida. Mitchell walked two and struck out three on 43 pitches.  

 

Mitchell struggled to find the strike zone early and had the bases loaded after just nine pitches in the first inning (two walks and a single).  

 

Mitchell gave up a pair of home runs in the game, the last of which came off Florida catcher Mike Zunino on the first pitch of the third inning. 

 

"I felt fine going out there," Mitchell said. "I just needed to throw strikes early and I got behind because I couldn''t throw my second pitch for a strike, either."  

 

Mitchell was coming off an eight-inning start against Austin Peay in which he gave up two earned runs. He pitched five innings and gave up two earned to get MSU tot he title game of the Atlanta regional. 

 

Even after that game, Cohen commented that Mitchell, though he had been doing a good job of attacking the strike zone, still had to work on doing it consistently.  

 

And though Mitchell said he wasn''t fazed by the big stage, Cohen hinted it might have affected his performance.  

 

Friday, Mitchell''s location, which often saw him fall behind the count, was exposed. 

 

"If you have the marginal miss, you''re never gonna get that call," Cohen said. "It''s got to be small misses all the time. It''s not difficult to do, especially for a freshman on this type of stage, but Evan''s a good one, a talented young man. He''s gonna be able to command the zone, when he does, his stuff is plenty good to be one of the best guys in this league." 

 

 

 

Randall lights out 

 

 

 

Florida pitcher Hudson Randall wanted to atone for his dismal start in Starkville this year.  

 

Friday, he was money from the jump.  

 

The Florida sophomore right-hander held MSU scoreless through the first five innings, posting a season-high eight strikeouts and at one point retiring eight straight batters. He entered the game with just 54 strikeouts in 102 innings.  

 

The performance, which saw him go over 100 pitches in the seventh inning, was a far cry from his two-inning outing in Florida''s 7-5 loss in Starkville. Then, he gave up six earned runs on nine hits.  

 

He gave up one earned run on six hits in eight innings. He finished with 115 pitches, the first time he''d gone over 100 this season. 

 

Randall said he was "pitching to contact" in the first meeting. Friday, he had Bulldogs hitters chasing balls on the outside portion of the plate. 

 

"I was a little bit more anxious, even though (a) Super Regional against Mississippi State kind of motivated me a little bit more," Randall said. "They tattooed me in Starkville. Last time out in Starkville, I think I was just leaving the ball up too much. I was sinking my ball better and hitting my spots." 

 

Even when Randall cooled down through the later innings, he was still effective, getting out of situations with two runners on in the fifth and sixth innings.  

 

"I think you have to change your approach if he gets you out," MSU third baseman Jarrod Parks said. "With a guy like him, he had a lot of sink, so if he gets you with a slider in the dirt, you''re gonna try to stay underneath the next time around and I think our guys did a good job with that the next time through." 

 

 

 

Parks breaks out of slump 

 

 

 

Jarrod Parks'' 2-for-4 day at the plate may be overlooked because of the Bulldogs'' landslide loss, but it was a needed boost for the MSU''s top hitter. 

 

Parks went 1-for-12 in the Atlanta regional, continuing a slump that started in the last five games of the regular season. 

 

Friday, Parks had a pair of singles for his second two-hit game since May 10. 

 

"The biggest hole is that hole up the middle and I''m glad I found that hole up the middle," Parks said. "It felt good to get on base for once." 

 

 

 

Gators'' early run sprees continue  

 

 

 

Through four NCAA tournament games, the Florida Gators have outscored opponents 34-1 through the first three innings. 

 

Friday, the Gators had a 7-0 lead on Mississippi State before the third, effectively putting the game away against a team that''s struggled to generate instant offense with a huge deficit.  

 

"We''re just trying to grind out at-bats and save a lot of pitches," Florida catcher Mike Zunino said. "When they get on, we really get going." 

 

The Gators had six of their 11 hits in the first two innings, including a pair of two-RBI hits and a pair of home runs.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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