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MSU beats URI to keep winning streak alive

 

Matthew Stevens

 

STARKVILLE -- Adam Frazier has been waiting months to say four words about Mississippi State University baseball team's offense.  

 

"We told you so," Frazier said about the Bulldogs' hot start. "We told you all before the season started we could easily do more than we did last year, and that's what is happening." 

 

No. 5 MSU recorded its seventh game with double-digit hits Wednesday night in a 17-5 victory against the University of Rhode Island at Dudy Noble Field. 

 

The victory extended MSU's season-opening winning streak to 11. 

 

Nine players had a hit and MSU capitalized on seven walks and five hit batters. Five Bulldogs reached base multiple times, including junior first baseman Alex Detz, who reached base five times with his second career three-hit day. 

 

"What we feel good about is our guys are doing what they're being asked," MSU coach John Cohen said. "Whether that's taking quality swings, taking HBPs or walks, they're a much more patient and experienced bunch this year." 

 

Frazier paced MSU at top of the order with his third three-hit game. The junior shortstop, who was a member of Team USA last summer, leads the team with a .465 average. He also leads the team with 20 hits and 27 total bases. 

 

Frazier and junior center fielder C.T. Bradford are hitting 35-for-84 (.417) this season. They went 5-for-8 with five runs and two RBIs Wednesday against URI (0-8) and helped MSU eclipse the 10-run mark for the second game in a row, and third time this season. 

 

Frazier and Bradford also have scored 25 of MSU's 89 runs. 

 

"There's no question that having us both healthy and producing at the top of the order is so key for our offense this season," Bradford said last weekend. "We knew that if we get on, it makes pitchers have to give our sluggers something to hit, too, and that's just a big confidence builder for them." 

 

MSU, which won its 14th straight game at Dudy Noble Field dating back to the final regular-season sweep of the University of Kentucky last season, is averaging 8.1 runs per game, a jump of nearly four per game from last season, and an increase of three runs from this point last year. MSU has six players hitting above .350 and has outscored the opposition 89-21.  

 

"We knew we could be a better team at the plate, and that's what is happening so far," Frazier said. "Up and down the lineup are guys that want to be better and wanted to improve from last year. It was a certainty this was going to happen." 

 

Detz is hitting .423 (11-for-26) with a team-high 12 RBIs. The California native has helped pick up the slack with first baseman Wes Rea nursing an injury. His performance has been a pleasant surprise considering he wasn't sure what his role would be as a newcomer to the defending Southeastern Conference tournament champions.  

 

"I played summer ball with (Detz) two years ago before we ever signed him, so when I heard we got him, the first thing I thought of was, 'Well, he can hit,' " Frazier said. "His start is not a surprise to me." 

 

Even seldom-used senior infielder Sam Frost joined in the fun, getting on base twice with a career-high four RBIs, including a two-run triple in a seven-run seventh inning. 

 

"I'm just grateful for the opportunity to play and get a catch to show what I can do in any situation," said Frost, who hit .214 last season. "Whether it's getting a triple like I did tonight or defensively or running the bases, I feel I can help this team."  

 

Cohen said the Bulldogs still have decision to make before he and his assistant coaches have to pare the roster to 27 active players in advance of the start to the Southeastern Conference schedule, but he feels the team has plenty of depth. 

 

"The competition of the fall and this early part of spring at the plate, even in this cold weather, is really making everyone better," Cohen said. 

 

In his second start of the season, sophomore right-hander Brandon Woodruff struck out the first three he faced, but he walked three walks in a 32-pitch second inning. Despite leaving the game after allowing a single and a walk to open the fifth, Woodruff believes he'd gotten his power stuff back and felt positive about earning a SEC weekend rotation spot. More importantly, he left the mound convinced he was healthy after suffering through elbow tenderness in early spring scrimmages. 

 

"I'm fine. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the elbow. Trust me," Woodruff said. "My problem tonight was being able to locate out of the stretch, but out of the wind up I was hitting 93-94 (mph)." 

 

MSU will open a four-game weekend series against Saint Joseph's University at 4 p.m. Friday at Dudy Noble Field. 

 

 

 

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