When your pitching staff has the plague and you have to start your 6th starter on a Friday night and you're missing your starting catcher, things aren't going too well. That's basically what happened to MSU on Friday as Luis Pollorena took the hill without Mitch Slauter vs. Arkansas' dynamic Barrett Astin. If there were odds for State to win, I'd have set them at 2:1.
But never count Pollo out. He takes the hill and despite a questionable strikezone by the home plate umpire leading to some early walks and runs, he gives a gutsy, 6 inning, 117 pitch performance, giving up only two runs.
Pollorena was able to keep State in the game long enough for the offense to get on the board and tie the game with two in the 6th (RBI from Detz and Rea in 2-out rally). In the top of the 7th, MSU took the lead on a Ammirati RBI single, 3-2.
Now, what do you do here? Pollorena is 117 pitches into this game. You've got the lead - a tremendous coup considering the odds against you starting the game. In the series preview, I said,
Pollorena isn't a guy who can go past 5 innings or so.
I knew this, but did Cohen? Luis simply hasn't done it very much, and when he's tried he hasn't succeeded. Since he's only started two games prior he obviously hasn't built the stamina, and just a couple of weeks ago against Southern Miss he tried to go into the 6th inning and got rocked.
Knowing this, it was a risk to put him back out there in the 6th inning with the game tied at two, but it worked out. But there's no use in playing double or nothing when you've got a stellar bullpen.
Bottom of the 7th, 3-2 lead - PUT IN BEN BRACEWELL! Your lights-out set up man who has a ZERO POINT ZERO ZERO E-R-A!!
That's not what happened, you know, because that's what I would've done and Cohen does the opposite. He sticks with Pollorena who promptly gets into trouble forcing a move to the pen. But instead of going to Bracewell, he goes to Gentry who hits a batter and gives up a 3-run triple on two pitches.
Ben Bracewell never entered this game - maybe he's experiencing some more arm trouble - I don't know for sure. Still, NO EXCUSE. Why bring in a freshman (Gentry) when you can bring in a senior who is having a great year (Girado)? When Girado came in for Gentry after the triple he got two quick outs and the inning was over.
By that point Arkansas was up 5-3 and despite getting two on and no out in the 8th & 9th innings MSU was only able to muster one more run and the Hogs won 5-4.
With Arkansas' pitching staff, you won't get 11 hits and 4 runs too often, so you've got to take advantage, especially when you've got the lead in the late innings.
Why is Cohen so hell bent on saving his bullpen? He acts like his best relievers are only to be used on Sundays. I know you want to have everybody fresh, but a bird in hand is worth two in the bush - IF YOU'VE GOT A CHANCE TO WIN ON FRIDAY THEN DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO WIN ESPECIALLY ON THE ROAD QUIT SAVING ALL OF OUR BEST PITCHERS FOR LATER WHEN WE DON'T EVEN KNOW IF WE'LL BE CLOSE IN THOSE GAMES. I'd rather wrap that game up last night and be guaranteed a loss on Sunday than do what we did in Game 1 and still have a chance in Game 3.
It's really frustrating to watch a talented team like this be so poorly managed.