Diamond Dawgs clean up defense

 

Ben Portnoy

 

 

Sophomore Justin Foscue is not one for postgame conversation. 

 

Intense and focused, he's more concerned with his output between the lines on the diamond rather than finding his name among lines of text from local news outlets. 

 

But Tuesday night, Foscue flashed a rare smirk when he was asked about his recent flashy glove work at second base. 

 

"I think the game slows down a little on that side because the ball's not coming so hot at you," he said. "I feel good over there. I feel like I'm helping the team a lot more than I was over at third just cause there's a lot more balls hit to me." 

 

Since MSU's home series loss to LSU, there's been a noticeable cleanliness in the field. 

 

In three games against the Tigers, the Bulldogs tallied seven errors -- three of which were combined by Foscue and sophomore Jordan Westburg. 

 

Head coach Chris Lemonis has since shifted Foscue from third base to second, while senior Marshall Gilbert and junior Gunner Halter have split time on the corner. 

 

MSU has committed just five errors in the nine games since the LSU series. 

 

Foscue and Westburg's cohesion at second base and shortstop has been noticeably different. 

 

Playing the middle infield entails more ground balls being hit toward them and thus more opportunities for errors. 

 

Foscue and Westburg are riding eight- and nine-game errorless streaks, respectively, since the former shifted to the right side of home plate. 

 

"Me and Westy are throwing partners, we've been friends since we stepped on campus," Foscue said. "We work very well together." 

 

Third base is decidedly less settled. Gilbert has been solid of late -- recording eight assists to just one error in his past six appearances. 

 

Halter has been similarly effective with seven assists and no errors in his past five appearances in the field. 

 

And while defense is a priority, Lemonis said he will run a rotation of Gilbert, Halter and freshman Landon Jordan depending on who has "the hot hand," starting with this weekend's three-game series at No. 12 Arkansas. 

 

"I think all of them can help us in certain ways," Lemonis said. "I thought Marshall was great on Sunday and Gunner has been good and I think LJ has a chance to help us." 

 

DAWG NOTES: Graduate student reliever Cole Gordon was nominated for the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship by MSU. 

 

Gordon has bachelor degrees in Kinesiology and Marketing. He posted a 3.83 GPA during his undergraduate career. He is on track to graduate this summer with an MBA. 

 

MSU women's track & field athlete Logan Boss was also nominated. 

 

The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship has been awarded to the SEC's top male and female scholar-athletes since 1989. 

 

 

Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch.

 

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