Post-Game Quotes After MSU-Arkansas DH Split

MSU head coach Ron Polk and several MSU players talk about their doubleheader split with No. 11 Arkansas. The doubleheader split kept MSU's very slim hopes of making the SEC Tournament alive.


RON POLK

It was on the verge of being a really, really good weekend for you team.
"We pitched well this weekend. Dave Van Horn complimented us on our pitching. We played our hearts out. This was a key ballgame. It seems like the third game of Auburn, Vandy, Georgia and here has determined our season. Everything has to click for us to be successful because we aren't good enough right now.

"We had the lead in all three games against Georgia and in today's game. It's not that we aren't that far off talent-wise with these other teams. It just seems like there is just a little margin of excellence, the edge has been the other way. If we had won the last four Sunday games, we would be sitting in pretty good shape right now."

It is basically going to take a sweep of Alabama for your team to have any hope of postseason play.
"I would like to take this team to the SEC Tournament, but our RPI was 31 going into Wednesday's ballgame with Louisiana Tech. If we had swept (Arkansas) it would have probably gone up to 25 or 26. If you hang around at a 25, 27, 28 or 29 RPI and (the NCAA) wants to pick the 64 best teams in the country, then we have a chance."

Do you think if you sweep at Alabama, but don't make the SEC Tournament that you will still make the NCAA?
"The precedent was set last year with Florida. There is no rule on the books that says you have to be in your tournament. That is whey some of (the SEC) coaches are pushing for a 12-team baseball tournament. I voted for it, but I'm not crazy about it. I just think if you don't make your eight-team tournament, you don't deserve to go to postseason play. I also think (a 12-team tournament) cheapens your 30-game round-robin."

Did you think at all about bringing Ramsey in relief in the second game?
"I talked to him in between games and he said his arm was very tender."

Do you think that Craig Tatum and Brad Corley have established themselves as two of the best players in the SEC?
"Yeah, Craig, defensively, is one of the best catchers in our league. And Brad is one of the better hitters in the lead and Tatum has gotten some timely hits. They are both sophomores, although Tatum is draft-eligible."

BRAD CORLEY

You lost another Sunday game after you had a lead.
"It seemed like on Sunday during the entire season we had the lead early but around the 6th or 7th inning we couldn't hold the lead. I don't know what happens. But I think it was still a successful weekend for us. We had to win 2 out of 3 and we did. It would have been great to get the sweep. We still have a chance to get in a regional. We just need to keep our heads up going into Alabama."

Basically, it is going to take a sweep of Alabama to get into the SEC Tournament. How difficult do you think that is going to be?
"I don't think Alabama is doing that well this year but it is going to be hard to go to their home field and sweep them."

How much pressure will be on you guys knowing you have to go into Alabama and not lose a game?
"I think we are almost past that right now. We are just going out and trying to have fun. Like Coach Polk said, 'don't try to play so hard, just try to play easy.' He's told us that a few times."

It was almost like you saved your best for last by winning this series.
"It was huge coming out and winning the series. I think a lot of guys were playing with all their heart for the seniors today. It was pretty emotional before the game seeing (seniors) Steve (Gendron), Jeff (Lacher) and Tyler (Scarbrough) out there."

Didn't you hit a fastball for the first-game home run that won the game?
"Yeah. I was just up there trying to hit the ball hard. Luckily, it got up and out. I saw (the ball) well today. I think I was something like 7 for 8 today."

Talk about the throw in the first game where you threw their runner out at home plate.
"That was huge. I think that was my first assist the entire year. I didn't really throw it as hard as I could. I was just trying to be accurate. It seems like this year every time we've had a close play like that it has either bounced away or been a bad throw or (catcher) Craig (Tatum) didn't come up with it."

CRAIG TATUM

You won the first two, then were so close to winning that third one. I guess there is as much disappointment as there is happiness.
"It seems like the last four Sundays we can't hold a lead. We just didn't make some quality pitches."

How difficult will it be to go to Alabama and sweep them?
"It is going to be difficult. We want to go there and win the series. If we sweep them, that will be good. It is going to be hard for us to get into the SEC Tournament. Right now, we just want to make it to a regional. We've proven that we are good. We just beat the best team in the SEC. That shows we can hang with anybody whenever we play our game. Our starting pitching was outstanding this weekend."

Starting pitcher Jeff Lacher had a good game in the first game today.
"He really did. It was hot and humid and he just ran out of gas. He got out of one inning big when he loaded the bases, walked a run in, then bowed up and got out of that inning."

Game 2 starting pitcher Todd Doolittle also performed well.
"Our starting pitching did well. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have been in either game. But we can't hold a lead right now. If we want to be successful next weekend, we have to hold a lead. I'm sure it is going to be low-scoring games next weekend because Alabama has one of the best pitching staffs in the SEC."

What did Todd have going for him?
"He was throwing harder as the game went on, keeping them off-balance with his curveball. It really ticked me off that he didn't get the win after he only allowed 3 hits and 2 runs. It has to be frustrating for our starting pitchers because they threw their butts off this weekend and I don't think any of them got a win."

During your entire baseball career, has this been the most frustrating season that you have ever gone through?
"Yeah, just because we have so much talent. People use (excuses) that we are young and that we have injuries, but we just don't hold leads. It's not just pitching, but also our defense."

It also must be frustrating to see how well you played this weekend, knowing you could have played this well the other weekends.
"If we win Sunday at Auburn, Vandy, Georgia and we win today, that is four games. We would be 14-13 and going to the SEC Tournament and it is a totally different season. Instead, we are 10-17. It just seems like it is one pitch or one play that we don't make."

TODD DOOLITTLE

You have improved each SEC start but you don't have much to show for it.
"You couldn't ask any more from the hitters. They did their jobs today. They got a lot of hits. We may have tried to play some small ball that didn't come through. I had a tough inning in the third and saw the bullpen getting active. I thought that I needed to step it up. I got out of that inning with just one run scoring. Then, we got a couple of runs. I felt more relaxed with the lead. It's always like that for a starting pitcher. I felt like I progressed the entire game. I did get a little tired and starting sweating really bad, catching calf cramps in the 5th inning. I was able to overcome that and come back out and throw strikes."

Are you feeling more comfortable each SEC outing?
"When I first started, I was nervous. The SEC is totally different than the weekday games. You have to throw more strikes because hitters are more patient. As I keep starting, I think I will get better and better."

What do you think you need to continue working on to be even better next season?
"I probably need to get a little bigger and stronger. I probably need a little more stamina so that I can go into later innings. My location needs to improve."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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