There are only three weeks left in the SEC regular season which means that the SEC Tournament and NCAA regionals are right around the corner. Also, MSU is coming off a week where they played in state foes USM and Ole Miss. And for those complaining about our team hitting- at least we’re hitting better than Albert Pujols.
MSU’s series vs. Ole Miss this past weekend was, in my opinion, the biggest SEC series for MSU since John Cohen has arrived at MSU. There is a perception- real or imagined- among many fans that Ole Miss has passed MSU as the baseball power in the state. Ole Miss was ranked coming into this series and I think many expected Ole Miss to at least win the series. Also, Baseball America’s top college baseball writer- Aaron Fitt- was in Starkville to watch the series- mainly to watch Chris Stratton vs. Bobby Wahl on Friday.
What happened this weekend was a great start to the series with Stratton pitching absolutely brilliantly and shutting the Rebels out 4-0. And we also saw MSU’s hitters outwork and out hustle the Rebels- one of the key plays was Frazier taking first to third on a wild pitch where Ole Miss catcher Will Allen didn’t retrieve the ball as quickly as he should have- and knock Wahl out of the game. On Saturday, MSU made errors and lost 6-2 despite coming back to tie the game on a Mitch Slauter home run late in the game. However, MSU came back strong on Sunday thanks to Luis Pollorena leading MSU to a 4-2 win where MSU took advantage of Ole Miss walks and hit batters.
The result of this weekend was what we needed as a program. Our team is now confident, and the fans are also starting to gain confidence. On the message boards, I’ve seen people go from talking about being lucky to have eight SEC wins to now talking about what we have to do to host a regional. Also, to win like we did in front of someone that has the influence that Aaron Fitt has is big for our program because I could tell from his blog posts that he was impressed with our team. That helps with our national perception- which translates into national rankings. We also got two wins that will really help our RPI out a lot.
And speaking of the fans, we’re starting to see the attendance climb a little bit. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re making strides. And kudos to Scott Stricklin for the fireworks after the game and also for having Smokey the Bear throw out the first pitch on Friday, which apparently some Ole Miss people took as a “classless slight”. Maybe it would have been more classy to have someone serve a subpoena to Mike Bianco on the field before the game to welcome them to Starkville.
At any rate, for those scoring at home- MSU has now won three of the past four regular season series with Ole Miss in baseball and Cohen has won six of the past seven in his career. To me this proves that despite the perception, the reality on the field is this is still our state.
On to the random notes!
- Chris Stratton was recently named the 42nd best prospect in the MLB draft by MLB.com, was named to the Golden Spikes Watch List awarded to the top amateur baseball player in America and is the Heisman Trophy of college baseball, and is a candidate for the Ferris Trophy awarded to the top collegiate player in Mississippi. And he was named SEC pitcher of the week for the second time this year. Other than that, it has been a pretty slow week for Stratton.
- Stratton follows up Kendall Graveman as SEC pitcher of the week making it two weeks in a row that a MSU pitcher has won the honor.
- Former MSU Bulldog Tyler Moore formerly of Northwest Rankin made his MLB debut for the Washington Nationals and also recored his first Major League hit in his debut.
- Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles won his 1,000 career game over one of the teams he used to manage, the New York Yankees.
- Keep an eye on MSU commitment Derek Martin of Tri-County Academy in Flora, MS. He recently in a playoff game hit a titanic home run in the playoffs and then followed it up with a grand slam giving him his seventh and eight home runs on the year. I suspect you will hear a lot about Derek next year around this time.
- MSU received a commitment from Cuesta College (California Junior College) second baseman Alex Detz. Detz played on the same summer league team as Adam Frazier and is hitting .316 and has 31 walks compared to 20 strikeouts and has been hit by a pitch 3 times. Detz has also stolen 8 bases in 9 attempts and has and also has a .981 fielding percentage. Alex is a left handed hitter who I think will compete for the second base job next year.
- College Baseball Nation has MSU projected as a 3 seed in Eugene Oregon, and Perfect Game has MSU also projected as a 3 seed going to Florida State.