Five Diamond Dogs Earn All-SEC Honors

Five Diamond Dogs will head into NCAA Tournament play this week wearing SEC honors, as the league announced its 2014 All-Conference teams. The squads were selected by vote of the 16 SEC coaches who could not vote for their own players.

Leading the list for Mississippi State is LHP Jacob Lindgren, the only Bulldog chosen to the first team. He was chosen as the relief pitcher on the 12-man squad which had two specific starters allotted. A junior in his first season as a full-time relief pitcher, Lindgren still posted a 6-1 record in decisions with a 0.88 ERA. In his 51.0 innings so far he has 93 strikeouts against 21 walks, and only 20 batters got a base hit off him out of the official 173-faced.

Lindgren is the 105th Diamond Dog named first-team All-SEC since 1941.

Team-leading hitter 2B Brett Pirtle was chosen at his position on the second team, while LHP Ross Mitchell was one of the two starting pitchers on that squad. Pirtle doubled-up on honors for this senior season as part of the All-Defensive Team, joined there by SS Seth Heck.

Pirtle takes a .341 average into Regional season, sixteen points higher than the next-best Bulldog batter and sixth-best in the SEC. He is fifth-best in league on-base percentage, too. Hitting third or fourth in the order most days, he has driven in 27 runs and scored 32 times, also tops on the team. In last week's SEC Tournament he hit his second home run of the season and fourth of his two-year career at State. But it with the glove he has made as much or more impact, fielding at a .980 pace with just six errors in exactly 300 official chances this season. His partnership with Heck gives Mississippi State arguably the best middle-infield set of gloves in the SEC and maybe even nationally.

Mitchell was the NCAA leader last season in victories with no defeats, going 13-0 as a pure relief pitcher. This junior season he moved into a starting job for SEC season and has posted an 8-4 record and 2.10 ERA. He is fifth-best in SEC earned run average, and pitched the second-most innings in the entire league. He has only 49 strikeouts against 29 walks which normally would not merit all-conference attention. But SEC coaches know what fans do, that Mitchell is not a normal sort of starting pitcher and performs in ways that can't show in a stat sheet. Other than, of course, going almost twice as many innings as any other State starter this season, and throwing four complete games with a shutout. Mitchell is also Mississippi State's member on the SEC's Community Service Team.

As expected, C Gavin Collins was on the All-Freshman Team. The true rookie became State's regular starter behind the plate mid-season and is second only to Pirtle in team hitting at .325. When not wearing the mask as starting catcher, Collins has become a designated hitter option as well. Last week Collins was named to the All-Tournament Team after batting 6-of-14 at Hoover, which certainly helped his case for selection as the league's best rookie catcher.

The highest individual recognition though wasn't just for on-field abilities. Heck was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, having posted a perfect 4.0 average in his first year in senior college. His selection for 2014 gives Bulldog baseball consecutive league SAOTY as 3B Sam Frost won the award in 2013.

The Bulldogs continue practicing today in advance of their Wednesday departure for the Lafayette Regional. There #2 seed Mississippi State faces ##3 seed San Diego State, the Mountain West Conference champs, in a 1:00 game.

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