February 26, 2009
STARKVILLE -- The opportunity to get a big hit or to make a key pitch can be the difference when a baseball game is on the line.
Junior pitcher Justin Bussey and redshirt freshman Brent Brownlee took advantage of their situations in the eighth inning Wednesday to help the Mississippi State baseball team.
Bussey worked out of a jam to get the win, while Brownlee had the game-winning RBI double in a 4-3 victory against Mississippi Valley State at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU coach John Cohen encourages his players to be ready to contribute immediately, and Brownlee was glad to be brought into the game at such an important moment.
"He expects you to do it on the first try," Brownlee said. "He wants you to be focused. (Cohen) has been putting me in about the seventh inning of every game, so I''m getting used to that. I was ready to pinch hit. I''ve had five at-bats, so I was ready to get out there and take an at-bat."
Brownlee hit a fastball off Scott Reid into left field to drive in pinch runner Grant Hogue from second base.
Hogue had stolen second after Connor Powers was hit by a pitch.
"When Grant was on second, I knew I had to do something," Brownlee said. "I knew anything up the middle or to the outfield Grant was going to score."
Cohen saw Brownlee get a pitch to handle and thought he did well to get the bat on it.
The only thing he would like to see Brownlee do the next time is to be more aggressive on the bases.
"I want him to try to stretch that into a triple and really force the outfield arm," Cohen said. "Brett is a good athlete, and we''re starting to see glimpses of what he''s going to be in the future."
Once the Bulldogs (5-1) took the lead, Bussey retired the side in order in the ninth to win his first decision of the season.
Bussey walked two after relieving Lee Swindle in the eighth, but he got out of the frame with a strikeout.
"I knew I had to come in and do what I had to do," Bussey said. "You sit out here and wait for your chance to go out there. When you get called on, you''ve got out there and compete."
Mississippi Valley scored once in the first and led 1-0 lead until the fifth when MSU''s Ryan Powers was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the game.
The Bulldogs gained a 3-1 advantage in the seventh when Jarrod Parks singled and scored on an error and Powers reached on the error and scored on a double by Mark Goforth.
The Delta Devils tied the game with two hits in the eighth before Bussey entered and ended the rally.
MSU only had five hits, which concerned Cohen.
"We do not have good at-bats, and that''s bothersome," Cohen said. "I''m not 100 percent sure in the six months that we''ve been here that our kids are fully aware of what our expectations are in terms of having great at-bats during the three hours it takes to play a Division I baseball game. That''s a failure on my part, and we''ve got to get better.
"If we have the same type of approach on the weekend, we''ll get embarrassed, just like the club did last year, and I want to avoid that at all cost. We''ve got our work cut out for us."
MSU will get three more chances at home this weekend when it plays host to Nicholls University on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.