The hits keep coming for the Mississippi State baseball team and not the good kind of hits. State (23-8, 3-6) lost their fourth-straight series and all of their first three against SEC competition. It must be noted, however, that this team is not getting blasted by really good competition. Two top-10 teams in LSU and Kentucky and a top-12 team in Arkansas were just a few pitches away from losing their series against the Bulldogs and the last two series (Kentucky and Arkansas) could have very well been swept by the Maroon and White.
The bottom line at this point is that MSU simply has beaten themselves. After trailing 2-0 early against Arkansas on Friday night, Luis Pollorena settled down and the Bulldogs were able to gain the lead at 3-2 going into the bottom of the 7th. Pollo came into the inning with 117 pitches thrown and was held in the game before allowing two runners to reach with no outs. Freshman Myles Gentry entered, hit a batter then gave up a three-run triple and the Razorbacks took a 5-3 lead.
State still had their chances. Two runners reached with no outs in both the eighth and ninth innings and only one run crossed the plate as the Dawgs would lose game one. A
After a strong complete-game performance by Kendall Graveman, State gave up three runs in the first inning Sunday and never got into the game despite a phenomenal game by the bullpen. Nine innings of shutout baseball was what the bullpen would deliver, but the bats never got going with the exception of a solo shot by Wes Rea and MSU lost another series.
Looking at the early start of the season, State can see only one game in which they didn't beat themselves. Make the right decisions in the other losses, and MSU is 8-1 in SEC play and more than likely the number one team in the country.
Instead, State has now dropped out of the top 25 this week for the first time this season. Moving on, let's take a look at this week's stats around the conference and country.
Batting Average: 2nd (NCAA 10th)- Hunter Renfroe (.436); 9th- Adam Frazier (.363); 14th- Alex Detz (.348)
Hits: 3rd (NCAA T-11th) - Frazier (45); T-7th(NCAA T-46th) Renfroe (41)
Slugging %: 2nd (NCAA 4th) - Renfroe (.851); 12th- Frazier (.500)
On Base %: T-2nd (NCAA T-33rd) - Detz (.500), Renfroe (.500)
Runs Scored: T-1st (NCAA T-12th) - Frazier (33); 10th- Bradford (25); T-11th- Renfroe (24)
RBI: 2nd (NCAA T-7th) - Renfore (36); T-12th Detz (22)
Doubles: T-4th Frazier (9); T-6th-Renfroe (8)
Triples: 1st (NCAA T-7th) - Frazier (4)
Home Runs: T-2nd (NCAA T-5th) - Renfroe (9)
Total Bases: 2nd (NCAA 6th) - Renfroe (80); T-5th- Frazier (62)
Walks: 1st (NCAA T-8th)- Detz (27)
Hit by Pitch: T-9th (NCAA T-34th) - Pirtle (9)
Stolen Bases: T-11th- Renfroe (8)
At Bats: 2nd- Frazier (124); T-5th-Bradford (119)
Batting Average: 2nd (.301)
Hits: 2nd (NCAA 7th) (310)
Slugging %: 3rd (.416)
On Base %: 3rd (NCAA 24th) (.400)
Runs Scored: 1st (NCAA T-14th) (206)
RBI: 1st (185)
Doubles: 3rd (52)
Triples: 4th (9)
Home Runs: T-4th (16)
Total Bases: 2nd (428)
At Bats: 1st (1029)
Walks: 2nd (NCAA T-12th) (140)
Hit by Pitch: T-3rd (40)
Stolen Bases: 4th (43)
As you can see, State took a slight dip in a few of the rankings which was somewhat expected against a very strong pitching staff like Arkansas. They still remain around the top of the SEC in nearly every statistical category offensively. Still a lot to be excited about there. Now let's look at the defensive side of things.
Earned Run Average: 5th (NCAA 16th) (2.60) Leader: Ross Mitchell- T-1st (NCAA T-13th) (0.96)
Opposing Batting Average: 2nd (.206) Leader: R. Mitchell-9th (.203)
Innings Pitched: 1st (277.1)
Strikeouts: 1st (NCAA 3rd) (270) Leader: Jacob Lindgren-T-15th (35)
Wins: T-3rd (23) Leader: Ross Mitchell-4th (NCAA T-28th) (5)
Saves: 5th (9) Leader: Jonathan Holder-T-4th (NCAA T-12th) (7)
Appearances: Leaders: Chad Girodo- T-1st (17); Myles Gentry- T-3rd (16)
(Least Amount) Hits: 4th (201) Leaders: R. Mitchell- T-9th (26); Pollorena- 13th (29)
(Least Amount) Earned Runs: T-7th (80) Leaders: R. Mitchell- 3rd (4); Graveman- 14th (11)
(Least Amount) Doubles: T-2nd (24); Leader: R. Mitchell- 1st (1)
(Least Amount) Triples: T-4th (2) Leader: Graveman, R. Mitchell and Pollorena -T-1st (0)
Least Amount) Home Runs: T-6th (9) Leaders: R. Mitchell and Pollorena- T-1st (0)
Fielding %: 4th (NCAA 23rd) (.977)
Chances: 1st (1240)
Putouts: 1st (832) Leader: Detz-15th (179)
Assists: 1st (379) Leader: Frazier-1st (100); Pirtle- T-13th (70)
Double Plays: 1st (NCAA 1st) (41) Leaders: Frazier-1st (34); Detz and Pirtle-T-6th (22)
Caught Stealing By: T-11th (7) Leader: Nick Ammirati- T-9th (6)
Just like the offense, defense is also near the top in most statistical categories and they've played the first three series against top-10 caliber competition. So what is the problem here? It's not what the Bulldogs consistently do but it's the few mistakes they make that come back to hurt them. I have a feeling it will turn around pretty soon and it needs to start this week.
Next up for the Diamond Dawgs is a mid-week road trip tomorrow night against South Alabama in Mobile, Ala. The Jaguars were recently a top-25 team before falling this week so it's another big test for this squad. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. with Will Cox (2-1, 3.60) will be on the mound.
This weekend is another big one as the Bulldogs will be back in Starkville with a match-up against a suddenly-surging Florida Gator team. The Gators (13-16, 4-6) are coming off a series win over #11 Ole Miss with back-to-back shutouts over the Rebels. This is a must win series for the Bulldogs to try and move forward this season.
Game times this weekend are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday (CSS Broadcast) and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.