Coming into this past weekend, most of the MSU fanbase was a little worried about this Central Arkansas team. The Bears had outscored their opponents by 90 runs in their first 13 games and their only loss had come to a top-5 SEC program in Vanderbilt. MSU wasn't sharp in either of the three ball games and after a win Friday, they fought from behind the next two games and lost the series.
It's never good to lose a series especially to a team that you should be better than so there's no sugar coating this. But this Central Arkansas team should be a shoe-in for a regional and could be a team that can make it to the supers the way they are built. They brought the punch to MSU time and time again this weekend and although the Bulldogs answered back a couple of times, it wasn't enough.
The Bears came into the series with the best offense in the country. But it was the MSU defense and pitching that bailed them out this weekend. On the weekend the Bulldogs defense had four errors all in the last two ball games, all of which were huge reasons they weren't able to put the wins out. Also the pitching staff really struggled on the hinges of the early injury to Jacob Lindgren Friday that really started to mess with the Bulldogs routine and they were never the same.
In the two losses, MSU pitching gave up 14 runs on 17 hits with 11 walks and 11 hit batsmen. The latter was the real reason the Bulldogs lost the series. Lots of control issues by Bulldog pitching with the ball jumping all over the plate. Just really uncharacteristic weekend from State. We'll see what they look like Tuesday but I think they'll bounce back well now that the first losses are out of the way.
Alright lets get to it. The Bulldogs were bound to drop in the rankings and they did just that with some big drops in a couple of polls. Let's see where they are after 19 games.
Mississippi State Baseball
|Baseball America||13 [link]
|USA Today / ESPN Coaches'||11 [link]||6|
|Collegiate Baseball||8 [link]||5|
|Perfect Game||14 [link]||10|
Really depressing to see that significant drop from number three to 13 in Baseball America but that's why you have to win these series at home against out-of-conference teams. Like I said, I think the team will be focused now and we should see a better team because of this. With a rough weekend, the Bulldogs should have dropped in some rankings around the SEC. Let's check out some of those now.
Batting Average: 6th-Alex Detz (.412); 14th- Adam Frazier (.397)
Hits: 2nd- Frazier (29); T-11th- C.T. Bradford (24)
Slugging %: 12th- Detz (.549); 15th-Frazier (.534)
On base %: 1st- Detz (.551)
Runs Scored: T-3rd- Frazier (19); 5th- Bradford (18)
RBI: T-7th- Detz and Hunter Renfroe (17)
Doubles: T-6th- Detz (5)
Triples: 1st- Frazier (4); T-2nd-Renfroe (2)
Home Runs: T-3rd-Renfroe (4)
Total Bases: T-2nd- Renfroe (40); T-4th- Frazier (39)
Stolen Bases: T-8th- Adam Frazier (6)
Plate Appearances: 1st- Bradford (84); 2nd- Frazier (83)
At Bats: T-1st- Frazier and Bradford (73)
As you can tell, Frazier had a really bad weekend at the plate. Things really couldn't have gone worst for the Bulldogs those last two games with Frazier struggling and the pitchers and defense not making their usual plays. I think that you will see a different team Tuesday at Trustmark Park. Here's this weeks updated team rankings and were MSU ranks.
Batting Average: 1st (.319)
Slugging: 5th (.433)
On base %: 3rd (.413)
Runs: 2nd (134)
Hits: 1st (199)
RBIs: 2nd (120)
Doubles: T-4th (29)
Triples: 1st (9)
Home Runs: 7th (8)
Total Bases: 1st (270)
Walks: T-4th (78)
HIt by Pitch: 3rd (28)
Stolen Bases: 3rd (27)
What's crazy about this week's rankings is that MSU moved up or stayed where they were in almost every single ranking proving that the offense is there for this team and wasn't the real issue this weekend. The Bulldogs now lead the league in four separate categories (Batting average, hits, triples and total bases). The pitching staff and defense took the most of the brunt on the weekend. So let's see where their stock is now.
Earned Run Average: 1st (1.73)
Opp. Batting Average: 1st (.181)
Innings Pitched: 1st (172.0)
Strikeouts: 1st (184)
Wins: 1st (17) Leader: Ross Mitchell- 1st, 4; Luis Pollorena-T-3rd, 3
Saves: T-2nd (7) Leader: Jonathan Holder- T-1st, 6
Appearances: Leader: Myles Gentry- T-1st, 10
Hits Allowed: T-5th (107)
Runs Allowed: 3rd (42)
Earned Runs: T-3rd (33)
Doubles: 1st (11)
Triples: T-3rd (1)
Home Runs: T-3rd (3)
Fielding Percentage: 7th (.975) Leader: Detz- T-1st, 1.000
Chances: 1st (771) Leader: Detz- 1st, 167
Putouts: 1st (516) Leaders: Detz- 1st, 156; Mitch Slauter- 15th, 101
Assists: 1st (236) Leader: Frazier- 1st, 60
Errors: 5th (19)
Double Plays: 1st (26) Leaders: Frazier-1st- 20; Detz-2nd- 19; Brett Pirtle- T-5th- 12
So as you can see there, the weekend did take a small toll on the rankings but MSU is still overwhelmingly a top-3 pitching staff in the conference so far. We'll see if this was just a bad weekend or if MSU just hasn't been going up against the big bats until now. I think it's a little bit of both and I still believe this could be the best pitching staff in a really really good conference, it might just take a little time for this team to come together against adversity.
This week is a big one for the Dawgs. Tuesday night they hit Pearl, Miss., taking on the 7-8 Southern Miss Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagles came into the season in the top 25 but seem to be reeling a bit. This could be a good bounce-back game for the Bulldogs or could be another bad loss. Senior southpaw Luis Pollorena (3-0, 1.88) will be on the mound. He has been a force against Southern in the past two years and matches up well against the lineup.
Following the mid-week matchup, the Bulldogs are back home for the biggest series of the young season. The #7 LSU Tigers are coming to town. Last season after the Bulldogs lost both games in a midweek series against Southeastern Louisiana, they went to Alex Box Stadium and could have won all three ball games only getting the Sunday contest. They then took down the Conference champs twice in Hoover to even win the season over the Tigers 3-2 in their five games played.
The Bulldogs got good news Monday morning when pitching coach Butch Thompson confirmed a throwing session with Lindgren that was very positive. As of today, Lindgren (2-0, 0.96) will be scheduled to throw the opening pitch of the weekend against the Tigers (15-1) Friday night at 6:30 p.m. Cohen surprised a lot of people this past weekend and threw Evan Mitchell on Saturday. There could be several different guys thrown out on Saturday, but I would think that Kendall Graveman (1-1, 2.61) will be back into that role this weekend. Mitchell (0-0, 2.30), Will Cox (2-0, 1.02) and Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 3.38) will all be available for the weekend more than likely and that should be your Sunday selections.
Game time for Saturday's contest is 6 p.m. with a regional broadcast on CSS. Sunday's series finale is set for 1:30 p.m.