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Season Opener: Florida Atlantic Recap

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It did not go well.

HailState.com

The season opener obviously didn't go as hoped, but there are still some interesting things to take away from this game.  A lot of new players got to play, and Dakota Hudson had his first start.

  • Hudson had a bad first inning, but considering that he only threw 16 innings last year, he had a decent first start.  He left a few fastballs up high over the plate in the first inning, and he balked with a runner on third.  However, his fastball got better as it went on, and FAU couldn't hit his slider.  He gave up five hits, and at least four of those were fastballs.  Out of the 22 batters he faced, he struck out 8.  FAU stole a couple of bases on Hudson, but one was because Marrero threw the ball too high, and Marrero actually threw the runner out on the other stolen base.  Five innings seems like too short of an outing, especially with a Friday night starter, but Hudson had thrown 94 pitches and it was the first game of the year, so I didn't expect him to pitch past the fifth inning.
  • I enjoyed watching Robson hit first instead of in the middle of the order like he did last year.  People make too much out of where players hit in the batting order sometimes, but Robson is someone I and most other fans probably prefer in the lead off spot.
  • Kruger was outstanding as the DH.  He got under one in his first at bat, and it still made it to the warning track.  He went 3 for 5.  One of those hits was a fly ball that an FAU outfielder misplayed.
  • Gridley played well at shortstop last year, so it was notable to see him at second.  After the way he struggled last year at the plate, it will be interesting to see how much his hitting improved this offseason.  He did go 3 for 5 tonight with a few hard hit line drives.
  • MSU fans finally got to see Luke Alexander.  He committed to MSU in 8th grade.  His home run was a no doubter.  Starting at shortstop as a freshman is a lot to ask, but he wouldn't be playing there over Gridley if he wasn't a good fielder.
  • For those of you that follow Cohen and his decision making process on bunting, he let Rooker hit with runners on first and second with no outs.  Statistically, you have a better chance of scoring with one out and runners on third and second, but Rooker has enough power to where I would ignore that.  He smashed the ball right at a middle infielder (I don't remember which one), so he got unlucky that time.  Cohen did have Alexander bunt with a runner on first.  Most players hitting eighth don't have much power, so I understood that one.  That being said, Alexander does have some power, as we saw with his home run that I mentioned.
  • MSU lost 10-6, so you are probably wondering how I made it this far without getting too negative.  This is the part of the recap where it all goes downhill.  Out of the six relief pitchers tonight, five were freshmen, and the other one was a sophomore.  Most of them should be fine long term, but it was a brutal first game for the bullpen.
  • MSU went 4-20 with runners in scoring position.  FAU went 7-17.  There isn't really much to analyze there, but that is why the game got ugly in the 7th.
  • Mangum looked like an impatient hitter.  It is way too early to say that he actually is impatient because 1) it was his first college game ever, and four at bats don't indicate what kind of plate discipline he actually has 2) out of the four at bats, he swung on the first pitch at least three times, but one of those was a fastball in the middle of the plate, and he hit it hard right at someone.
  • FAU's cleanup hitter had a rough game.  Hudson gave him nothing but fastballs, and he didn't come close to hitting any of them.  After getting struck out by Hudson a few times, Small came in and blew three straight fastballs right by him.  Sexton is starting against FAU tomorrow and doesn't throw as hard as Hudson or Small, but when Cohen does have to go to the bullpen, put somebody in that can throw hard and give that guy the heater.
  • Non-game thoughts: I was impressed with the size of the crowd.  I watched it on SEC Network+.  How difficult can it be to show how hard the pitcher threw on the scoreboard?  The display has come a long way since Maroon to the Max first came out, but that is one improvement I would like to see.

It is disappointing to have a season opener like that, and some extremely negative things did happen in this one, but it is just one game.  FAU isn't a bad team, and if MSU wins both games during the doubleheader tomorrow, the mood of the fanbase will be way better than it is tonight.  I'm waiting until after the Los Angeles trip to even start judging this team as a whole, and that is probably too early.