First of all, I am not happy that we lost the series, and I feel like we should have won the series, and I’m sure John Cohen and the players feel the same way. The bottom line with our team is we are going to win with pitching and defense. The defense really let us down in the first two games, and one thing I have noticed is that the pitchers are making a lot of the errors. That tells me that maybe some extra PFP (pither fielding practice) should be in order. I think we should keep Daryl Norris at third base because I feel like he is our best defensive option there and he is also a good hitting option as well.
And that brings me to my next point- in the first two games, the bottom five in our order struggled REALLY bad. We have too many good hitters to allow that to happen, and that should not happen with this team. But one of the best ways to keep that from happening to to PLAY those players and stop experimenting and hoping that someone will catch fire when they have not hit or shown any signs whatsoever at this point in their career. I thought Coach Cohen did a good job of correcting that in game three- and when I saw the lineup I had a nice smile on my face. They didn’t let me down either- we hung 10 runs up on the board against them, and it should have been more had Trey Porter not had a home run stolen from him. Other than the bottom five, I thought we hit the ball well- our first four hitters hit nearly .500 in the first two games, and we actually outscored LSU over the course of the series. CT broke out of his slump- as I predicted he would in my last article, and it was good to see Wes Rea back. I think Wes was still getting his timing down a little bit, but I look for him to have a big week this week playing Alcorn and then a good hitters park at Kentucky. In fact, I expect our hitting to continue to do well and hopefully that will build even more confidence.
We have to pitch a little bit better than we did- I thought Jacob Lindgren pitched very well other than one bad pitch to Mason Katz and Kendall Graveman was outstanding. At the same time, we had pitchers missing signs and throwing curveballs when they shouldn’t, and that hurt us, and we miss Brandon Woodruff. I did see part of Brandon’s bullpen session before the game and I thought he looked very good, but now he has to be able to take it to the field. He will start against Alcorn and I think we will gradually work him back into the rotation- hopefully by the Auburn series which of course is Super Bulldog Weekend. To me, the key to us reaching our full potential is Brandon Woodruff being what he can be. I think Johnathan Holder needs to get his arm up a little bit more to get that ball to go down and stay down, which I think will help him find the strike zone and get hit a little bit less. Ben Bracewell is a warrior- he has battled injuries, but I love his energy and competitiveness.
Now, the GOOD stuff. I know everyone wants to hear my thoughts on the brushback pitch that Kendall Graveman threw.
I disagree with Paul Manieri– who said:
"I thought (the umpire) should’ve thrown (Graveman) out of the game. You don’t have to give him a warning. You’re going to penalize (Katz) because he’s playing the game right way, he plays the game hard and he’s swinging the bat good so we’re now going to throw a ball behind a kid’s head? That’s different from pitching inside and wanting to work both sides of the plate and keep a kid uncomfortable. To throw it behind a kid’s head, I can’t respect people who do things like that, and I’m sorry, I just never will. I could understand why they’re frustrated, I mean, we beat them every year and they get tired of getting beat by us. To me, there’s no place in college baseball for doing that."
If John Cohen had handled this the same way, I would be embarrassed as a MSU fan. Knocking a hitter down IS part of baseball. It happens to everybody, and at some point in time, everybody knocks someone else down. But the reason I think Paul Manieri is out of line and being unprofessional is because he is handling this through the media, and this is something that you don’t handle through the media. And you especially don’t do it that way after your guy started it by flipping his bat on a home run and after you retaliate by knocking down MSU’s first baseman. The funny thing to me about it is, Manieri saying that he didn’t respect anyone who played the game like that- well, basically he is saying that he doesn’t repect Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander, Jared Weaver, etc. Maybe Paul Manieri doesn’t realize this because he has no professional experience, and John Cohen does as a minor league player? The other funny quote out of it was Paul Manieri saying that we did it because we are “tired of losing to them”. I guess he forgot that we knocked LSU out of the SEC Baseball Tournament en route to beating them TWICE and MSU has a 4-2 record over the last six games and had actually beaten LSU three times in a row going into this series. Of course, I’m sure he wants to forget last postseason after his team was beaten by Stony Brook in Baton Rouge, and it appears as if he has succeeded. As a teaser, I’m going to talk a little more about knocking hitters down, and the etiquette behind it tomorrow.
But what Kendall Graveman did worked to PERFECTION because I think it got under LSU’s skin and got their focus off of the baseball game, and I also think that this incident will make MSU’s team that much closer as a unit. Also, Coach Cohen is going to probably talk about how much tougher we are than LSU because of how we handled ourselves and it’s going to give us even more confidence going forward.
I would be remiss without patting the MSU family on the back for showing up to the games this weekend- we didn’t get 10K like I wanted, but 7K is pretty good considering the parade this weekend in Jackson and the fact that it was spring break. Great job and let’s keep coming out for these guys!