How did you feel in the 9th inning, with your team leading 5-4 and all the fans standing for the last few pitches against the last batter in the inning?
"That was something that I have never felt as a Mississippi State Bulldog. I am just as happy as I can be. Our team played great tonight. We were down, then we fought back and fought back and ended up coming away with a win."
You came in for Luis Pollorena who pitched really well, throwing 5.2 innings while allowing no runs on 1 hit and no walks with 6 strikeouts.
"Pollo (Pollorena) did a great job. That is the best that I have seen him pitch the entire year. He did a phenomenal job."
The last batter in the 9th fouled off a couple of pitches with the count 3-2 before flying out to right field. What was going through your mind during the last few pitches to him?
"What was going through my mind was that this guy was not going to get on. And this is going to be the last batter that I face for the game. I just wanted to end it right there, no matter what it took."
When he hit it and you saw it was going to be an out, what went through your mind?
"I just pointed straight up to the sky because I knew Trey Johnson was going to come down with it and I knew that was it."
How big was this victory especially after the sweep at Georgia?
"This is a huge win after getting swept last weekend but it's really just a big win for us in general. It's an in-state rivalry and they are a top 25 team. We played good at Georgia, but we just couldn't quite put it together."
Head Coach John Cohen
You won another one-run game.
"This is a ballclub that is going to have to win one-run games. And the more one-run games we win, and the more times we come from behind, the more confidence our kids will have."
What are your thoughts about Luis Pollorena's pitching tonight?
"It was unbelievable. He just did a great job. He is a great competitor, great teammate, it's hard to bunt on him, you can't run on him. He is one of those kids that our other players really rally behind because they love playing behind him because he puts it in the strikezone. That was the entire key to the ballgame, throwing strikes. The four-run inning (by Southern Miss) was all about a walk, a hit batsman, and we weren't controlling the strikezone. Then, Luis comes in and pounds the strikezone for us and that was the difference in the game."
He also really seemed to keep them off-balance. What pitches did he have going for him tonight?
"He's now got a little cutter that he throws to righthanded hitters that keeps them off-balance. And he's always been able to get lefthanders out. Now, he's got something for righthanded hitters, too. And that is significant. (MSU pitching coach) Butch (Thompson) really worked with him on throwing a slider. He's also got a really nice changeup. He's really a four-pitch guy, which is unique. He also pumped it in the strikezone and got to the bottom of the strikezone. In this (Trustmark Park) ballpark with these (new) bats, even against a very good offensive club like Southern Miss, you have to pound the strikezone. That's the entire key. You have to pound the strikezone and play defense. And if you do that, then you are going to be fine."
What are your thoughts about how good Southern Miss is?
"Southern Miss is a really, really good ballclub. And you can't count on them making mistakes defensively (like they did in the first inning). We got a little lucky with that tonight. But we didn't have any luck this past weekend."
What was the reason for taking Luis Pollorena out when you did?
"Because Caleb (Reed) is a much better matchup versus righthanded hitting. Vollmuth was up and he's a great hitter with big power and we wanted to go Caleb versus him and see if he could figure out (Caleb's) slider. And we were getting to their lineup where they had some righthanders. Caleb has been in this situation for us before and we just felt like he was the most experienced guy and our best opportunity at that time."
Was that Luis' last batter no matter what the situation was?
"Well, it depended on the situation. It depended on whether there was a runner on or nobody on. That was going to be a big part of it. Once the runner got on, we went right to (Caleb)."
I know you probably had planned on going with 5 or 6 pitches for this game. Did the way Luis was pitching kind of lend itself to sticking with him as long as you did?
"Yeah, because we hadn't really extended him like that all year. But because he was pitching so well, we are thinking that we will bump him back later in the weekend, bump him to Sunday. We have 16 guys who have pitched, so if we extend one guy out, we have somebody else who can come in and maybe take a spot on the weekend."
You mentioned that you didn't have any luck against Georgia this past weekend. Was this almost a must-win?
"I think everybody in the SEC will tell you that every single game is crucial. If you lose to a team you shouldn't lose to in the middle of the week, you feel awful about that. If you are playing a very, very good club like a Southern Miss, it is also important. Really, it doesn't matter who you are playing at the division 1 level because they are all important."
Did this type save give you even more confidence in Caleb Reed?
"He is our best strike thrower in that situation. That is why we have so much confidence in him. You might be able to get a hit off of him but he is not going to walk you. He's also got the most experience. We don't have a lot of experienced guys who have gone out there and done that type thing."
Did it also give you even more confidence in Luis Pollorena considering how long he threw and how effective he was?
"Of course. But we already had a lot of confidence to begin with. It's all about shoving it in the strikezone. It's not confidence in his stuff. We know that's good. It's all about not giving them bases and us defending the field then see what happens. And that's what Luis did more than anything. He made guys put balls in play. He also had some punch outs, too, but he made them put balls in play. He's also one of those spiritual, high-energy guys who just gets everybody on your team going, which is something we needed today."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.
PEARL, Miss. - Mississippi State sophomore left-hander Luis Pollorena sparkled in relief as the Bulldogs rallied to a 5-4 victory over 14th-ranked Southern Mississippi in a college baseball game played Tuesday night at Trustmark Park.
In his longest stint as a Bulldog, Pollorena threw 5.2 innings of one-hit relief as MSU overcame a 4-2 deficit to snap a three-game losing streak. Pollorena only allowed two base runners - one on a single and another on a hit batsman - and at one time, retired 13 Golden Eagles in a row.
With the victory, MSU improves to 20-9 overall, while Southern Miss falls to 22-6. The Golden Eagles, who moved as high as 14th in one national ranking Tuesday morning, saw a five-game win streak snapped. The Maroon and White have won back-to-back games in the series as Tuesday's triumph came on the heels of a last season's 15-6 win in Hattiesburg.
"Luis is one of our best athletes," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "He came in and pumped it in the strike zone. That is exactly what we needed. We needed someone to come in and throw strikes. In the second inning, they should get one run but they wind up getting four, because we hit a guy and walked a guy. Luis was able to come in and fill the strike zone with strikes. He is an unbelievable competitor and the rest of the team really responds to him."
MSU grabbed a quick 2-0 lead by scoring twice in the first inning. Ryan Collins started things with a one-out walk. Jarrod Parks then singled through the left side of the infield. Daryl Norris followed with a ground ball which resulted on an errant throw. That miscue - the first of four by Southern Miss in the contest - plated the first run. An RBI-double by C.T. Bradford plated the inning's other run.
Southern Miss answered with four runs in the home half of the second inning. After retiring the side in order in the first inning, MSU starter Andrew Busby ran into trouble in the second inning. Back-to-back singles by Marc Bourgeois and Isaac Rodriguez, followed by a walk to Adam Doleac, loaded the bases.
Kendall Graveman followed Busby to the mound. After a groundout, Graveman hit Justin Diliberto forcing in a run. A follow-up ground ball out brought Doleac home. Back-to-back RBI-singles by Kameron Brunty and Tyler Koelling ended Graveman's night and placed the Golden Eagles on top, 4-2.
Pollorena entered in the second inning and got the only batter he faced in that frame to snuff that threat.
"My job was to come in and throw strikes," Pollorena said. "It was a bad inning and the guys told me to go out there and get an out so they could come in and hit. When I was in the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice, I could tell the ball was not carrying out. I knew I could just throw strikes and let the defense play behind me."
Pollorena (3-0) did just that. While facing 18 batters, Pollorena threw 64 pitches, with 46 being for strikes. The only base runners to reach were Rodriguez as a hit batsman in the third inning and Koelling with a one-out single in the eighth inning.
The Bulldogs slowly rallied with one run in the sixth inning and two more scores in the seventh inning.
In the MSU sixth inning, Bradford started things with a leadoff single. After a steal of second base and a groundout, Jaron Shepherd drew a walk. A double steal moved both runners into scoring position. The only sixth-inning score came on a sacrifice-fly by Adam Frazier.
An inning later, the Maroon and White grabbed the lead. Ryan Collins drew a leadoff walk and Parks followed with his second hit. Trey Johnson reached as a hit batsman to load the bases. Chase Horn became the third USM pitcher of the seventh inning.
A bases-loaded walk to Cody Freeman forced home the game-tying run. An RBI-groundout by Bradford gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
"Honestly, we aren't doing a good job of getting hits with runners in scoring position," Cohen said. "Every other aspect of our game has improved greatly this season. However, we have to find ways to score more runs. We are letting too many opportunities get away. We have pitched it well enough to win more games. Now, we have to work on the timely hitting and take better advantage of our opportunities."
After the one-out single in the eighth inning, Caleb Reed closed the deal on the mound for the Bulldogs. A strikeout and caught stealing ended the eighth inning. Reed got the final three batters in a row after a leadoff single by Marc Bourgeois in the ninth inning, to close out his fourth save.
MSU finished with eight hits. Bradford had three hits, while Parks had two hits. Parks, a senior third baseman, has now hit safely in 23 of 29 games this season.
Southern Miss was held to six hits - their lowest hit total of the season. Koelling and Bourgeois each had multiple hits. Starting pitcher Boomer Scarborough worked six innings, allowing six hits and three runs (one earned). Josh Rogers (1-1) faced two batters in the seventh inning, did not record an out, and took the loss.
MSU returns to Dudy Noble Field for a Southeastern Conference series with fourth-ranked Florida this weekend. The Bulldogs and Gators take part in Super Bulldog Weekend with game times of 6:30 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday and noon Sunday.
Story by MSU Media Relations