April 30, 2013 10:59:16 AM
STARKVILLE -- The five-hour bus ride home Sunday from Nashville, Tenn., seemed a lot longer to the Mississippi State University baseball team.
Losing a three-game Southeastern Conference weekend series will do that to a team.
"I think we had an opportunity this weekend to prove to the nation we're elite and for me, that hurt the most because that's my pride speaking," MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson said Monday night. "I think you could feel that it sucks the life out you a little bit because we didn't roll over and play dead for Vanderbilt."
Thompson, who is in his fifth year on John Cohen's coaching staff with the No. 22 Bulldogs (33-13, 10-11 SEC), watched his pitchers give up three earned runs in each of the first two games and lose because of Vanderbilt University's dominant
combination of Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede. The Commodores' one-two punch ran its record to 19-2.
The Bulldogs had six hits Friday, including a career-best three-hit night for Brett Pirtle. While collecting his 10th multi-hit game, Pirtle has reached base in a team-best 17 straight games.
"I am proud of these kids," Cohen said after the loss. "There was never a doubt in the dugout we were going to get some guys on the ninth inning and have a chance. The attitude and competitiveness of this team is great. It is a lot different than five years ago when we first got started."
Thompson agreed, and felt the Bulldogs played well enough to win the first two games, but he said Vanderbilt (39-6, 19-2) proved why it is an elite team by capitalizing on MSU's mistakes.
Thompson took Cohen's spot on his coaching radio show Monday at Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville because the Bulldogs' head coach was on a recruiting trip. He stressed MSU's goals of playing host to a NCAA regional haven't changed despite losing its fourth league series.
"I just don't think you relinquish anything out of your glass until it's all gone," Thompson said. "I would say that when you put something up on the board as a goal, you fight for it till there's nothing left to play for."
No school with a sub-.500 conference record has earned a chance to play host to a regional in the past 10 years. The only team that was .500 in its league and earned a chance to play host to a regional was Texas A&M University in 2007 (13-13 in Big 12 Conference). The Aggies won their league tournament in the final weekend.
"The big thing to remember when it comes to NCAA Regional hosts is that it's highly, highly unlikely a team with a losing conference record gets an NCAA Regional host," Perfect Game national college baseball reporter Kendall Rogers said. "State is one game below .500 in league play. The Bulldogs really need to be very, very good down the stretch to nail down a host spot. Winning home series over Alabama and South Carolina is a must."
Slauter will have broken left hand re-evaluated today
Senior catcher Mitch Slauter, who is in the third week of recovery from a fracture in one of the metacarpal bones in his left hand, will be re-evaluated today by the medical staff to determine if he can have physical contact on his glove hand.
Slauter was seen Tuesday at MSU's victory against the University of Memphis win at AutoZone Park coaching first base with a brace on his left hand, but he has been able to play or to catch since the injury.
"The fear with us about Mitch is getting him re-started too soon because of the pounding that hand is going to take and then we lose him for the rest of the season," Thompson said. "I'm so proud of the way Nick Ammirati has handled what we've asked him to do. It would be shameful to both players if we rushed Mitch back now."
After being named SEC Player of the Week last week, Ammirati was 1-for-11 against Vanderbilt. The senior from Sparta, N.J., held Vanderbilt to no stolen bases in the first two games. He also threw out Tony Kemp, arguably the league's fastest runner, Friday night.
MSU's Boston 'B" hats raise over $25,000 for bomb attack victims
An online auction of MSU baseball hats designed to raise money for victims of the recent Boston Marathon bomb attack raised more than $25,000 for One Fund Boston.
School officials announced Monday that the auction of 24 maroon "Boston tribute" hats worn by players April 18 in a nationally televised game against Auburn University raised $25,441. The proceeds will go to the fund established to assist the victims of the April 15 bombing and their families.
The hats were produced by adidas and delivered to Starkville in less than two days. In a joint venture by the MSU Athletic Department, Bulldog Sports Properties, and NeuLion, the hats were made available to fans in an on-line auction. Bidding for the hats closed April 26.
MSU will play host to the University of Alabama at 6 p.m. Friday (ESPNU) in game one of a three-game SEC Weekend series. Game two will be at 2 p.m. Saturday. Game three will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.
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