One-on-one with Coach Butch Thompson

Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson talks about his team's 8-7 win over Vanderbilt Sunday afternoon.

You used several pitchers in the top of the 9th inning. What was your strategy during that inning?
"I was trying to make Coach Cohen crazy (laugh). No, it was to the point where we didn't have our natural closer available. When Caleb (Reed) came out (of the game after starting it) I told him he wasn't quite himself. When it got to the 6th inning I told Caleb he has to get ready again (laugh) but of course he couldn't. I just wanted to piece it together. Taylor (Stark) had been there before but I think he would have liked to have had his last pitch back because he made two really good pitches then he didn't execute his third pitch right where he wanted it."

You brought in Ross Mitchell against Tony Kemp with men on 1st and 2nd with 1 out in the top of the 9th and he got him to pop out.
"Ross came in and got the one-pitch out due to it being a different look, a different ball movement. Every time (Kemp) came up it was a different look. A bunch of their runs were started due to him today. Once he got on base he created a lot of havoc for us."

Evan Mitchell had pitched well leading into that inning.
"I was pleased with what I saw from him. I thought he really calmed the game down. He was back to (throwing his fastball) 93 to 94. But in the 9th inning he hit their 7-hole hitter and then walked their 8-hole hitter and (Tony) Kemp was back up. Ross came in and got Kemp to pop out. Then, I felt good about Taylor coming in but he didn't execute the last pitch. Then (Luis) Pollorena came in against the next lefty (and got the out).

"(Vanderbilt) went with a different plan. They brought their Friday night starter in for the 9th inning. And you would have to be here in person to understand how hard Daryl Norris hit his double. I think it was hit so hard that the outfielders underestimated the ball and ran in initially."

Saturday's game was a tough, tough loss for everybody concerned. How difficult was it on the coaches?
"It is always hard on the coaches. I'll take myself out of the equation. But I can see how much Coach Cohen, Lane Burroughs, Nick Mingione and Brad Corley sacrifice, really I see how much everybody on the staff puts into the team. I hope people appreciate that.

"As for the boys, they are resilient. They always bounce back and believe the next day is going to be their day. We are just trying to put the pieces together so they can have success."

Speaking of the boys, this is the first SEC weekend where you had almost everybody back, although some were still limited in what they could do. One of those back was Daryl Norris who had a great weekend series.
"Coach Cohen pointed out that some of these guys are still short on some balls and can't dominate the outer half of the plate but they are battling for us. They are giving us everything that they have. I hope from week to week they close that gap until they are 100%. Being around them everyday and seeing them in the training room everyday you have no idea how much respect I have for them. They've all come back early because they worked so hard to get back. They want to be back for Mississippi State and their teammates."

One guy who is still not back is Ben Bracewell. What is his situation at this moment?
"I felt good about it after seeing the ball come out of his hand Tuesday and Wednesday. I think he could have given us an inning, but I'm not going to play with what Ben has going on. I'm just not going to play with it because his arm is the most important thing he has. Ben is such a competitive guy that I think he tells me what he thinks I want to hear sometimes. But I'm trying to be respectful of his arm. Part of my job is to do the best job I can in taking care of these boys and that is why he was held out this weekend. We will re-evaluate it this week to see if he can be with us (next weekend). But I am going to do everything in my power to make the right decision for these guys."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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