February 19, 2018 10:50:34 AM
Brett Hudson - [email protected]
HATTIESBURG -- Time and structure has done Cole Gordon a lot of good.
Last year, Gordon opened the season as a candidate to start at first base. He ended it by playing a key role as a starting pitcher and as a reliever on a Mississippi State staff that was decimated by injuries.
Following an offseason to work on his craft, Gordon threw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief Sunday in the MSU baseball team's 5-2 loss to Southern Mississippi at Pete Taylor Park.
"I think having a year to get through it and going through fall with it made me get more into the mental aspect of pitching," said Gordon, who added that working with MSU pitching coach Gary Henderson was important.
Gordon entered the game after MSU (0-3) allowed three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. He allowed one hit, walked three, and struck out two.
"I didn't have much fastball command, so I was mixing fastball and cutter to keep them off balance just so they weren't sitting on a single pitch if I was missing," he said. "I tried to keep mixing my pitches to make sure they weren't sitting on one."
If Sunday is any indication, MSU will see Gordon in that role more often.
"He's looked that way all fall and so far in the spring," MSU coach Andy Cannizaro said. "He's a guy that's going to pitch a lot on our team. We'll continue to bring him out of the bullpen and get a lot of outs."
Cannizaro gave right fielder Tanner Poole and third baseman Justin Foscue their first starts of the season.
Poole responded with a hit and a walk, while Foscue went hitless in four at-bats, but Cannizaro said it was time for him to get into the lineup after his impressive fall.
The decision to start Foscue moved Tanner Allen, who started the first two games of the series at third base, to left field. Cannizaro said Allen practiced in the infield and outfield in the fall.
MSU has other options in left field, but Allen's two hits Saturday helped him stay in the lineup.
Southern Miss third baseman Luke Reynolds used to hold the same role for MSU. He had a .370 batting average in Southeastern Conference play in his only season in Starkville. Before the next season started, he transferred to Southern Miss. He sat out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations.
Reynolds went 6-for-10 in the series and had four RBIs. On Sunday, he had a two-run double to right-center field in the fifth to break a 2-all tie.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson