“That’s why we played an intrasquad tonight,” Coach John Cohen said following Wednesday’s scrimmage. “Because our kids were just dying to play baseball.”
Yes, even as the wet weather turned cold—and the prevailing wind even colder—the Bulldogs held a six-inning scrimmage. Fittingly it ended in a 1-1 tie, so nobody left a loser.
They did leave the locker room with a fresh stock of data to review from the past weekend’s opening four games. Mississippi State split them, winning twice over South Dakota State and losing twice to Florida Atlantic. That was another reason the Bulldogs wanted to play Memphis, for the chance to get over .500 going into this coming weekend.
Another four-game weekend, too. Mississippi State will host Nicholls State and Massachusetts-Lowell in a double-round-robin, with the visitors playing first. State meets UMass-Lowell at 4:30 Friday; plays a Saturday twinbill with Nicholls State at 11:00am and UML at 2:30; then on Sunday rematch with Nicholls State at 3:30. Weather does not look like a factor all weekend, cool but sunny all three days.
Following the scrimmage, Cohen said starting pitching plans are the same as the first weekend. As in, only one start is absolutely planned.
“Dakota (Hudson) will go Friday night. And again we have the luxury of watching and we’ll make a decision on (Austin) Sexton pitching Saturday and (Daniel) Brown pitching. Then we’ll look at who we use out of the bullpen, if we don’t use (Vance) Tatum he might start on Sunday and (Zac) Houston might start on Sunday if we don’t use him as well.”
Starting pitching is supposed to be a squad strength in 2016, and Cohen is confident it will be. The first weekend just did not see the four starters throwing as sharp as they had in intrasquads. Nothing terrible, just not what was expected.
“They just didn’t answer the bell the first weekend,” Cohen said. “So I think they’ve made some really good adjustments this week are chomping at the bit to get back out there.”
Ideally the starters can take care of their business, and the offense show the same scoring support as in the first weekend, to let pitching coach Wes Johnson shuttle in and likely out the relief staff. Results from that crew were also a bit mixed, but that was to be expected since no less than eight Bulldogs threw their first senior college innings.
“No question those kids are going to be really good pitchers,” Cohen said. “And we’ve got to get them out there to get experience.”