It can be easy to forget how long a baseball season is sometimes until you witness a couple of weeks worth of games like MSU has experienced recently. Two weekends ago the Bulldogs lost a home series to Texas A&M - A series I would safely say we expected to win. That was followed up with a midweek loss to Jacksonville State, and just like that a five-game winning streak was all but forgotten. Then you throw in this past weekend - a weekend that saw State sweep three games with authority from Auburn - and you have yourself quite a swing of results and emotion for the team and fans respectively. Add to that Texas A&M taking a series from #5 LSU and things seem to have evened out a bit more for State.
If nothing else, the last several weeks should teach us that we - and by we I mean MSU fans - cannot toss in the towel or buy Omaha tickets based off of one game or one series. The Bulldogs have played well at times, and in turn they have played very poorly at times. But on the whole the team is at a better spot in the conference than they were last year, which is hard to believe. It's amazing what that College World Series run made us forget, but it's also amazing how drastic our emotions can get as a fanbase throughout a season. I'm mostly saying this to say that we as fans have to do a better job at being level headed, because the extreme highs and lows are going to dang near kill one or two of us one day soon.
Friday - MSU 3, Auburn 0
Friday night's series-opening win was all about pitching and the lost art of the Bulldog home run. C.T. Bradford and Cody Brown both homered for the Bulldogs, and Trevor Fitts pitched masterfully to lead MSU to a 3-0 shutout of Auburn to start things off this weekend.
Offensively, MSU did not do a ton on the night, but what they did was make the most of the opportunities they were given. The two long balls made up 2/3 of the scoring, while C.T. Bradford added an RBI-double late in the game to further advance the lead.
Pitching wise it was the combination of Trevor Fitts, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder that blanked the Tigers. Fitts was really really impressive for the second straight weekend, and Lindgren and Holder did their usual thing to close out the win. Overall it was a great way to start off a series that MSU really needed to win.
Saturday - MSU 3, Auburn 0
Saturday was more of the same from Friday night, except you can sub in Ross Mitchell as the impressive pitcher, and one big inning for the home run as the offensive output.
Ross Mitchell led the way in - this may shock you, so sit down - a complete game effort where he allowed only four hits. I believe he had two before the bottom of the ninth when he got into a bit of trouble, but he was able to rebound and finish off the win.
State was able to score its three runs all in the third inning, when Jake Vickerson and Derrick Armstrong led off with walks. C.T. Bradford, who played outstanding all weekend, drove in the first run with a single, while Alex Detz and Brett Pirtle would score the next two to push MSU out to a 3-0 lead that stuck. It wasn't a tremendous amount of offense, granted, but on a good Ross Mitchell day it was enough.
We will have to sit down and have a discussion about Ross' selfishness as a player at some point, Coach Cohen. Can't believe he didn't even let anyone else pitch on Saturday.
Sunday - MSU 12, Auburn 1
Sunday followed the trend of Friday and Saturday, except for that whole eight-runs-scored-in-one-inning thing that State worked up. With another 3-0 lead going into the seventh inning, MSU exploded for eight runs, including two Brett Pirtle RBI singles; a Cody Brown RBI single; an Alex Detz RBI double; and a Matthew Britton 3-RBI double to the gap. That inning was more than enough to help State cruise to victory in a game that they ultimately won 12-1.
Preston Brown drew his second consecutive start since coming back from injury, and this one went much better. Preston threw much like he was prior to his injury, giving MSU 5+ innings of two hit, one walk work. That was enough to earn him his fourth win of the season. State finished the contest out with Brandon Woodruff, Jacob Lindgren, Myles Gentry, and Ben Bracewell.
The win was sweet - mostly because it was the icing to the cake of a series that had already been won. The win also put MSU back on the right side of momentum (The Maroon Tidal Wave?!) heading into two very important series to end the regular season.
Record (As of Monday, Cinco de Mayo)
31-18, 14-10 SEC.
Pollwatchin' (As of Cinco de Mayo)
|Pollwatchin': Week Twelve|
|College Baseball Newspaper||18
We haven't done a Pollwatchin' post in awhile, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and just include it here for your viewing pleasure. The reason for the dearth of pollwatchin' lately is two-fold, but without getting into specifics, I didn't have time. And now it returns! And its return is in NO WAY in correlation with the fact that MSU did very well this past weekend and re-entered several polls. Oh yeah, you guys typically get music with that post. How about this for this week? Jimmy Fallon is absolutely killing it.
- There has been a lot of turnover in the rotation this year, but what a staple Trevor Fitts has turned out to be. His last two outings have really been good for this team, and overall this year he has become a big asset in this team's success.
- We've said this about 4,315,131 times since last February, but what can you say about Ross Mitchell? He simply goes out there and gets the job done, and when MSU needed it big time he did so again on Saturday. MSU's best reliever at the start of the year has transitioned nicely into MSU's best starting pitcher. I have to admit that I was hoping he would get to stay in the pen - I always felt better when I knew we had Ross to come in if a starter got in trouble early in a game - but this team has made it work with him as a starter recently.
- It's amazing how the home runs start showing up for this team when they play at a park less cavernous than Dudy Noble Field. State hit three on the weekend, which has got to be dang near half of the entire season's total going into the weekend.
- I think the "getting back into the hosting discussion" talk by some is extremely premature. State still has two really difficult and important conference series left on the schedule, so there's no point in predicting hosting scenarios when we still have six games left that could go really well or really badly. I think State will finish strong as do many others, but talking hosting only builds it up in everyone's minds which could then set up a lot of people for failure if State falls short of what those fans expect. The RPI is going to make it extremely difficult; there is not doubt. I personally am just hoping that we go into the postseason on a hot streak, no matter where that may lead us.
- If Preston Brown can stay healthy and continue to be MSU's #3 starter then the bullpen could be in really good shape with Ben Bracewell, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder leading the way. As I stated above, I felt much better with Ross in the pen, but Bracewell has pitched really well lately, so maybe he can become the long relief ace that Chad Girodo and Mitchell were last year. We know what we'll get from Lindgren and Holder at this point; the wildcard will be who can work the middle innings if a starter gets in trouble. Bracewell may be the key to another strong postseason run. We shall see.
Let's Get Social
Please keep Ross Mitchell and his family in your prayers. He lost his grandfather this past week and is missing his funeral this weekend.— MSU Baseball (@HailStateBB) May 4, 2014
My heart goes out to Ross. I know Saturday must have been very tough for him.
A closer look at Auburn's line score this weekend before the solo homer.... 000000000000000000000000 #HailState— Joel Coleman (@JoelTColeman) May 4, 2014
Two weeks in a row of amazing performances by Fitts. Congrats to him.— SixPackSpeak (@sixpackspeak) May 3, 2014
A&M is wearing their Mississippi St throwbacks today. Odd to see one SEC team honor another— Pod Katt (@valleyshook) May 4, 2014
No Midweek Games (Finals Week)
Tennessee - 5/9 thru 5/11