Kyle Peterson (@kp_Omaha) has been helping ESPN bring all of the action of the College World Series into your living room. He swung by the Daily Grind on Bulldog Sports Radio to talk about the action in Omaha and Mississippi State baseball.
Thoughts on the way John Cohen has managed his squad:
I think that John (Cohen), Butch (Thompson) and the whole staff have done a good job on letting these kids be kids. I think sometimes college coaches will try to wrap their arms around guys a little too much, and there is a value to letting them be who they are.
You have to control it sometimes, making sure they don't get away from you, but those guys have done a very good job of that from the hair and the beards and everything else that goes along with it. It might not sound like it is that big of a deal, but I'll tell you this, I've seen and found that it seems like guys play better when they're comfortable. Especially in this game, where a lot of the time, it helps you to have the ability to relax. I think the small stuff, which doesn't seem like that big of a deal, of letting kids look the way they want to look out there matters.
On the make up of the Mississippi State pitching staff:
If you had an ideal situation and could say here are my one, two, three starters, and I have a guy who is going to throw the seventh, a guy that will throw the eighth, and a guy that will throw the ninth, that is wonderful. Reality is it just doesn't happen that way very often. I think that what you have to do with a pitching staff is step back and say what are our pieces and how do we put that together. If that means you build it from the back, you build it from the back.
In this case, this is what has given Mississippi State the best chance to win. It doesn't matter where the wins come from; it just matters that they come. In this way, it is just done a little bit backwards. I think it is based on what you have, not necessarily going in with a set philosophy.
On the rematch with Oregon State:
When you look at Oregon State, it is a staff that is built very differently from Mississippi State. The strength for Oregon State this year has been their starters. I think the biggest thing in this ballpark is that you have to pitch and you have to defend. It is tough to come back if you are two or three runs down. Heck, it's tough to come back if you are one run down given the way this ballpark is built.
From an Oregon State standpoint, they have to lean on what they have all year, which is their arms. Their starters have been consistent all year as far as the same guys, and the freshman Andrew Moore had a year that you don't expect a freshman to have. They are much better off in a low scoring game.
They need to strike hard early. If they can get two, three, four runs on the board right away, you start to neutralize the (Mississippi State) bullpen a little bit because Cohen has to start to thing about the following day.
On what Mississippi State needs to do to advance against Oregon State:
I think the Bulldogs have to have it close through five. I know they have comeback late, but I think they need to have it close through five to really allow the strength of their club to take over. I think where they really get concerned is what happens in the first three innings because it is probably advantage Oregon State in the first three innings unless John decides to go with somebody that has been one of his best relievers all year.
If you get past that point, and you have a close game in the fifth, the advantage starts to shift towards Mississippi State just because of who they have been the entire season. Whomever they face from the other side for Oregon State is going to be a good arm because they are loaded with good arms. But, I think, the key is to get to the fifth with the lead or within one run of it, so you can allow the strength of your club to really come out.
On how Cohen has to handle being having two chances to win one game:
I think you have to be thinking ahead. If it is a tied ballgame, you are guns blazing the entire time. If it is something where they have to fight their way back, you have to pay attention to it because you cannot lose sight on what would happen the next day. He (Cohen) is going to do whatever he can to win this one and not have to think about the following one, so if it is tight enough, or if they are ahead, I think you are going to see everyone come trotting out there. But if not, you have to make sure you have one or two left in case you have to go the next day.
Thoughts on the other side of the bracket:
I think North Carolina is built as the type of team to come back through the losers bracket because their pitching staff is so deep. At the end of the day, UCLA is really good, and they are really good in this ballpark. They are built for that ballpark. They enjoy playing games that a lot of other teams do not necessarily enjoy.
The bigger the ballpark, the better it works out for UCLA. It is going to be difficult to beat UCLA twice.
Thoughts on the lack of the long ball in Omaha:
I think it needs to be addressed. It absolutely needs to be addressed. One coach told us this week, "We feel like we have to play a completely different style of baseball than we have had to play all year." If that is the case, you don't want that happening at your national championship. In a way, it is kind of unfair to the kids that get here.
The place is beautiful, and not to take away from anything they have built or done because it is a wonderful setting for what we are doing, but I think you need to mimic what the game is the whole year. Yes, homeruns are down, but they are not extinct. They just end up being extinct here, and I don't think that can be the case.
Can you do it by changing the ball? Yeah, I think you could do some of it by doing that. Could you do it by bringing the fences in from basically from bullpen to bullpen? Sure, and I think those things will be looked at.
I think the ball is the easiest to solve, at least to get a little of this back in there. The NCAA has come out and said they are going to take a look at it, but something needs to be done because there is just too much offense that is out of it.