Polk and Johnson Talked About Their Team's 3-1 Win

Mississippi State head baseball coach Ron Polk and starting pitcher Alan Johnson talked about their team's 3-1 win over Eastern Illinois.

Winning Pitcher Alan Johnson

Not a bad way to start the season.
"No, it wasn't too bad. I wish we had come out hitting the ball a little better. I feel like I came out and did to the best of my ability and we came out and got a win."

Did Coach Polk say anything before the game about the 1,000th win?
"No, Coach Polk didn't say much. I don't think he even said anything to us about this being his 1.000th win."

Did you feel any pressure?
"It was opening day, the first game of the season and we were playing against Eastern Illinois. The pressure wasn't really the first game but that it was Coach Polk's 1,000th win."

They came in as a winless team, but they had a respectable batting order.
"Yeah, we had to work. They had some guys who were pretty good. Their 3, 4 and 5 hole hitters were probably their best hitters. And they were a struggle all day."

How important was it working out of that first-inning jam when they had two on and no outs?
"That was probably the key to the ballgame. If we had let them score they might have gotten some momentum and the ballgame could have been over."

Do you think the two errors by the two redshirt freshman in that first inning was just opening day jitters?
"Yeah, I think both of them only played a couple of games last year before they got medical redshirts, so this was their first start. I'm sure they were pretty nervous."

What kind of stuff did you have today?
"The first couple of innings I probably had the best stuff that I've ever had here. Then, toward the end, I recognized that I was getting tired and they started hitting me a little bit better."

Coach Ron Polk

Your 1,000th win. What are your thoughts?
"I'm a little confused. I think this is my third time that I've been honored for winning 1,000. I think this is the last 1,000 that I can win. I appreciate the cake and the plaque that Larry Templeton gave me, but it's only a number. A lot of people say it's a great number and it is, but (all) it means is that I haven't died and have coached for many, many years. But I've got a few losses, too. When you have your 500th loss, they don't have a party for you and bake a cake. I'm just glad we won. The heck with a 1,000 wins."

When you reach a milestone like this, do you reflect back on some of the players that you've had?
"I would like to tell you I do, but I wasn't thinking if I win a 1,000, Bobby Thigpen is here. I really haven't thought about the 1,000 all year. But I'm glad it happened the first game. I do reflect on all the players that have played here and at Georgia Southern and Georgia."

Alan Johnson had 5+ pretty good innings.
"Yeah, he got up in the pitch count, and unfortunately he took it on the meat of the elbow (with a shot back to the mound). It's not anything serious. He was about ready to come out anyway, but I hate to have a guy come out that way.

"I thought that (Michael) Valentine did a good job (in relief of him). He got the pitch count that we wanted, so he can come back Sunday."

Did it surprise you that your team only had 4 hits in the game?
"No, not really. It was cold and neither team hit the ball. And I really can't remember us hitting the ball that well in the first game. You are generally nervous and anxious. And they had a pitching staff that can get you out when you are anxious because they don't throw hard. I'm not concerned. I think we will swing the bats pretty good."

What did you think about Eastern Illinois as team?
"Oklahoma, who played them last weekend, told us that they are a very nice, scrappy ball club. And I can see that. This was their 4th game and our 1st and you could see that in the first inning. We had some nervous nellies out there, but that happens. The left side of the infield was pretty much (seeing) their first time to play in a ballgame an extended period of time. I thought they made a couple of nice plays afterward."

Did you have any questions answered after watching this game?
"No, not really. We have been playing scrimmage games and will probably play another scrimmage game Wednesday. We have some decisions to make as far as redshirts, especially on the mound. That's where I have to get some answers. I need to see some more (scrimmage) games to make good decisions on 4 or 5 guys."

Who are the players that you haven't made a final redshirt decision on?
"I would rather not say right now."

Who starts on the mound for you Saturday and Sunday?
"Josh Johnson goes (Saturday) and Brooks Dunn on Sunday."

What's pitcher Todd Doolittle's status? When do you expect him to pitch again?
"He will be ready next week. He has a little fracture, but it's nothing serious. He could pitch right now if he had to, but we have enough pitchers."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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