Mississippi State baseball players talked about their 9-3 win over Illinois. With the win, Mississippi State goes to 3-0 on the young season.

Pictured: Josh Johnson
"> Mississippi State baseball players talked about their 9-3 win over Illinois. With the win, Mississippi State goes to 3-0 on the young season.

Pictured: Josh Johnson

MSU baseball players talk about their win

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/baseball/2004/jjohnson.jpg" align="left"> Mississippi State baseball players talked about their 9-3 win over Illinois. With the win, Mississippi State goes to 3-0 on the young season.<P> <h6>Pictured: Josh Johnson</h6>

True freshman pitcher Josh Johnson (2 innings, 1 hit, 1 strikeout 0 runs)

Considering pitching for MSU was a dream come true for you, were you nervous on the mound at the start of your pitching stint?
"I was a little nervous when I came in. Yesterday, I went down to the pen and that got me used to the atmosphere a little bit. I was nervous yesterday because it caught me off-guard. Today, he gave me a little indication when he asked me if my arm felt good. That gave me an indication that I might throw today. So, I had prepared myself that I was going to throw. I was still nervous, as expected. But once I got out there and threw the first couple of pitches I was fine."

Do you have any idea what you velocity of your fastball was today?
"I don't have any idea how fast I was throwing. My arm felt real good today."

What pitches were you throwing today?
"I threw mostly fastballs. I came right at them. (The coaches) have confidence that in a lot of situations that I might be able to overpower some guys just throwing fastballs. My curveball wasn't as good as expected but it was there. I also had a changeup that I dropped in on a couple of batters."

Since you are from Caledonia, Mississippi, which is about 37 miles from Starkville, did you have any family and friends at the game?
"I had some people from my church and a good buddy of mine. My parents were also here. I'm sure there were a few other people here."

The one time I saw your dad at a fall scrimmage was your one bad outing in the fall. Was he a little nervous about watching you pitch?
"Yes sir, he is always nervous for me because he wants me to do well. And I want to do well to make him proud."

This was a pretty good hitting Illinois team you had to face in your first collegiate outing.
"I knew they were a good-hitting team. We saw them against Western Kentucky and they hit the ball well. They played us pretty well (Saturday). We jumped out on them at first and they came back and got back into the ball game. They tried to do the same thing today."

Having such a good-hitting MSU team scoring runs like they did this weekend had to really help in your pitching today, didn't it?
"It helps out a lot. It takes a lot of pressure off of you. If you come in in a tight game, up 4-3 or 2-1, it is a lot tougher on the pitcher. It helped me out when I came out of the bullpen and we were up 9-3."

Sophomore right fielder/relief pitcher Brad Corley (1-for-4 hitting and 1 inning pitch, 1 hit, 1 strikeout, 1 walk, 0 run pitching)

From your vantage point, how did the MSU pitching look?
"I think our pitching has looked a lot better than people expected. We have some young arms. Josh Johnson came out and did a really good job throwing strikes."

How did you feel out on the mound? You mentioned yesterday that you were anxious to get back out there.
"I walked the first guy, but, other than that, I think things went pretty good. I felt good, but a little rusty."

What pitches did you throw today?
"I threw all fastballs except for two curveballs."

Do you think the hitting is really this good or was it due to not facing pitching up to SEC caliber?
"I think everybody on the team can swing the bat pretty good. I think it will be a very interesting year this year."

Redshirt freshman DH Brian LaNinfa (1-for-2, 1 home run, 3 RBI)

Talk about your home run today.
"I just tried to make contact, again. That's all I'm trying to do. I got lucky that I got it up in the wind and it disappeared out of here."

What pitches did you hit your home runs off of?
"Fastball, slider, fastball. I guess I'm just seeing the ball real good right now and I'm staying relaxed."

Do you think, as a team, you guys will hit this well or do you think it was more the caliber of pitching you faced this weekend?
"We have a great offense. One through nine I think we are a good-hitting club. We have a good defense and our pitching is spectacular."

Senior starting pitcher Jeff Lacher (Winner, 5 innings, 7 hits, 9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 runs [earned])

Talk about your pitching today.
"Today, I was just locating my fastball. I mixed in the breaking ball and the umpire was giving me a little bit on the outer half. And I was using that to my advantage."

What happened in the first inning when you gave up 2 of your 3 runs?
"I was a little excited that first inning because it has been a while and the crowd was watching. I probably pressed a little bit the first inning, but I settled down after that."

Did you get to watch Josh Johnson pitch?
"I didn't get to watch him pitch. I asked Coach Rock about him and he told me how he did. That was something I wanted to see. I listened to it on the radio and he sounded like he did pretty good. That is promising. You also had (Eric) Ebers throw for the first time (Saturday) and Josh today. The way they came out of the bullpen is good to see."

How much does it help a pitcher to be down by 2 and see your offense come back in the bottom of the inning and put 5 on the board?
"That was a big lift. I gave up 2 runs in the first inning and I was disappointed in that. Then, they come out and put up that 5-spot in the (bottom) of the first inning. It is a lot easier to pitch when you are up 2 or 3 runs. Then, they get it to 8-3 and all you have to do is throw strikes and let your defense work."

Do you think this offense is for real?
"We were talking about that. Some were wondering if it was the pitching (that we saw). But, all fall and spring we split up our hitters when we scrimmage. I knew when we put all nine of them together we would be pretty tough at the plate. I told the guys in the dugout that I wouldn't want to pitch against our team, the way we are swinging the bats."

What surprised you about your team after watching them for three games?
"The way we swung the bats was what was really surprising. That's the best we have hit the ball in the last couple of years this early in the season. I also feel like the younger guys coming out of the bullpen really impressed me a lot. I don't think we gave up many runs out of the bullpen this weekend. I think all the runs came off the starters." (Reliever Eric Ebers gave up 2 runs.-Gene)

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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