A Q&A With Assistant Coach Nick Mingione

Mississippi State assistant baseball coach Nick Mingione talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

You swept Alabama this past weekend. The Sunday game was one where you had to come from behind to win. What does a weekend like that do for the mentality of the team?
"Anytime you can get a win, it helps the team, but especially a walk-off win because it does so much. We talked about that before practice Thursday. Of all the home games that we have played this year, we had not had a walk-off win.

"Something funny happened in batting practice (this past week). Zack Randolph was the last hitter and he hit a home run on his last swing. And our team celebrated like we had just won a game. Then, everybody started saying that we are going to get a walk-off win this weekend. Sure enough, God blessed us, and we had two walk-off wins. I'm not saying because he hit a home run in practice that we got the walk-off wins.

"That was something that our staff has talked about. We hadn't had a walk-off win. It was just nice to get those two."

I don't know if you knew this but Mississippi State was 1-9 when trailing after 6 innings. And you wound up winning the Sunday game, a game that you were trailing in after 6 innings. I guess this team is really like the MSU saying, they are a team that grinds.
"Teams take the personality of their head coach. And I don't think there is any doubt in anybody's mind that Coach Cohen is one of the most fierce competitors that is out there. And he has the grinding mentality. And it carries over to the kids. You can say the same thing about Coach Thompson and the rest of our coaches.

"Our kids will never stop competing. That is one thing that I can say about them since we have been here; they will never stop competing. Sunday was a good example of that."

After being swept by Vanderbilt last weekend then coming back and sweeping Alabama says a lot about the makeup of this team, doesn't it?
"No doubt. Our kids have a special bond. I think you will see that if you watch them in between innings. I know you are down near the dugout during the game and can see them. Jacob Lindgren, who didn't have the outing that he wanted to, was right there on the top step along with a lot of other guys. He had two options, he could go pout or pull for his teammates. I feel like that is what our team does. And always will do as long as we are here and continue to get the right type of kids."

Jacob Robson struggled early in the season. Now he is one of the hottest hitters on the team.
"You know who led our team in hitting this fall? It wasn't Hunter Renfroe or Adam Frazier. It was Jacob Robson. But it's very difficult for a freshman to come in and play good all the time. He's an exceptional player and will be a great player for us. We are happy he is here. He is just going to continue to get better. That is one thing about Jacob, he keeps getting better every single day. It's been fun to watch."

I noticed that you are letting him hit against lefthanded pitchers now.
"A lot of that has to do with who we have already used in the game. But Jacob is a very experienced hitter. He actually stays in there well against lefthanded pitchers. We have confidence with him in there."

These players are a superstitious bunch. During the Sunday game, they wore the green caps, Luis wore a sombrero and they even did some kind of walking in the dugout around and around in circles. Did you notice that?
"I noticed it. I heard the guys say 'keep moving.' I think I heard someone say, 'keep moving, keep this thing going, we are going to win this game.' Coach Cohen loves that. Anytime our guys show that they are into the game and paying attention to what is going on, want to win, that is great. And I guess the walk-around worked."

I saw the players run onto the field after C.T. Bradford hit the game-winning single in the bottom of the 11th inning. I saw the fans in the stands cheering. What did you do as a coach?
"If you go back and watch the video you'll see that I immediately went down on my knees and gave the Lord all the credit and glory. I can't speak for everybody else but I can speak for myself. These kids work so hard. And you want them it so bad for them. When something like that happens to them, I will watch them and be so happy for them. You are around the lot in the fall. You see everything that we do. Everything that they have put into it, all the time, all the effort; it is so exciting and you get so happy for them because you want to see your guys go through that. For me personally, it is so exciting. Sometimes I will even get a tear in my eye."

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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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