While his teammates had fun with Jon, the Auburn Tigers, a team who roughed up MSU pitching for 8 runs during their Saturday victory, only enjoyed him to the tune of 7 hits. And that was it, because there were no walks. In fact, not only were there no walks, only three Auburn batters could manage counts that reached a three-ball count.
And, according to MSU pitching coach Russ McNickle, the no walks was a big part of his success. "He threw strikes, got ahead in the count and he didn't walk anybody. He's an upper 80's (fastball) guy, so he's not going to overpower you. He located well today, but it was his slider that was so effective today. Plus, he threw some decent changeups."
Although McNickle liked what he saw in the bullpen from Jon prior to the game, he was still worried, especially due to Jon's last two outings. "It was very important for Jon to get off to a good start, because he didn't pitch well against Samford (4 IP, 2 ER) and he didn't pitch well against Arkansas (4.2 IP, 4 ER)."
However, unlike those two outings, Crosby won the battle when runners were in scoring position. Auburn runners advanced into scoring position five times. A couple of those times, McNickle visited Crosby on the mound. "One time I went out there just to get the moment back in his favor. They had runners at first and third and I wanted to go out and get his thoughts back under control. Another time I went out there when he had a 4-0 lead and I told him if the guy hits a home run you are still up, so don't give up, just continue throwing your good stuff."
And that's what Crosby did. But, as you know, when the seventh inning roles around it's not unusual for MSU head coach Ron Polk to take his starting pitcher out and go to his bullpen. Were there any thoughts of taking him out, especially when he reached that 100 pitch number even though he was throwing so well? Yes and no, according to McNickle. "We actually thought about (taking him out) in the seventh. After about 100 pitches, I start getting a little nervous just from an injury factor. 115 has always been my limit as a pitching coach, but you want to give the kid a chance to finish something that he started. I know he wanted to finish it and his teammates wanted him to finish it."
Crosby - and his dad - couldn't have been happier with that decision. "My dad and I were actually just talking yesterday about me not going more than seven innings before," said Crosby, who transferred from Georgia Tech after his freshman season due to academics and home sickness. Partly due to that conversation, when the seventh inning came around, Crosby said he told Coach Polk, "I felt pretty good and wanted to throw some more."
After Polk and McNickle decided to leave him in, Crosby backed up his statement by retiring the side in both the eight and ninth innings to win his 5th game of the season against just one loss.
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 email@example.com.