MSU Pitching Coach Russ McNickle

Mississippi State pitching coach Russ McNickle talked about how the Bulldog pitchers did this past weekend against Marist. As a team, the Bulldog pitching staff allowed 3 earned runs, walked 2, allowed 14 hits and struck out 33. Marist batted .144 against them.

What are your impressions of how senior Brooks Dunn did Friday night? (6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO)
"He gave us a good start and set the momentum early going three-up, three down. Then, offensively, we jumped on them and that got Brooks going even better. I don't think he even had to get into the stretch either the third or fourth inning. His slider was good. His changeup wasn't as good as I want it to be. But it was nice to see the slider."

Did he go as deep into the game as you expected?
"We actually scripted it out to be either 5 or 6 innings, with 6 being the max. He was very efficient and was under 70 pitches. When you can do that as a starter on Friday night, that is pretty good."

Redshirt freshman Chad Crosswhite pitched well during his outing. (2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO)
"I was excited to be able to get him on the mound and get his feet wet. He threw 75% strikes. For a freshman that has never been on the mound (in a college game), that is pretty impressive."

Sophomore Trent Hill pitched the final outs in Friday's game. (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO)
"He came in in the ninth and battled through an error. He was very efficient, throwing just 6 pitches. It was good to see what he was able to do right away because we need to see if he is going to help us this year."

Junior Josh Johnson pitched really well during Sunday's first game. (6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO)
"He was good. I think last year his first start here was just averaged. So, it was good for him to get off to a good start. For him to pitch like that when we weren't scoring was something. It didn't seem like it bothered him. It was nice to see him pitch with a passion. We have talked (to them) about pitching with a passion."

Sophomore Justin Pigott came in after Josh. And unlike Josh, he is lefthanded and not a power pitcher. Was that designed that way? (2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO)
"It was planned that way. But Justin was not as effective as we had hoped. I was pretty disappointed in him. If you asked him, I think he was too. He actually walked the first guy of the year for us. And it was (against) a lefthanded hitter. But Justin's last inning was very good. It was almost like it took him three innings to get going. Coming out of the bullpen he can't afford to do that. "

What are your impressions of sophomore John Lalor's outing? (6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO)
"I noticed down in the bullpen (before the game) he was excited and had the most adrenalin that I have ever seen from him. He knows he has a chance to win the third (starting rotation) job. I think that had something to do with it. And also getting the third start on Sunday at home. What he can do in the SEC is throw strikes. We just have to get his breaking ball better, but his changeup was very effective today."

John Lalor topped out at 93 miles per hour and was hitting 88 to 89 a lot. Did his velocity surprise you?
"Very much so. And the way he maintained it was impressive, too. Last seaon he would maintain it for two innings, then he would drop down to the mid-80's. But he was strong today. Putting on 30 pounds and his commitment to the weightroom and conditioning have paid off."

Sophomore Mitch Moreland also did well. (IP 1.1, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO)
"Moreland was outstanding. He came in and got the first guy out, then got out in the seventh. Then he went back out in the 8th and I think he struck out two or three. We had scripted it out that Mitch would throw to the first lefty in the 9th, then we would bring in Aaron (Weatherford). You saw some of the passion (we want from out pitchers) when Mitch pitched tonight."

Is what you saw from Moreland what you want from him this year?
"That is what I am hoping I will get out of Mitch this year, 4, 5 or 6 outs. And the passion that he showed when he got that last out fired me up in the dugout."

True freshman Aaron Weatherford came in in the 9th and was throwing 90 miles per hour. Were you happy with what you saw from him? (1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO)
"He was throwing strikes. It was kind of like Chad (Crosswhite) the first time out, just throw strikes. Chad's velocity was down, probably because he was a little nervous. And that was probably the same with Aaron. Aaron threw a great changeup to strike one of their guys out. It's a pitch he's trying to develop."

Was Marist good or average competition for your guys?
"They were average. They could be pitched too. They had a couple of guys in their lineup that you paid the price if you made mistakes against them. But when you put your schedule together you want it to be tougher each weekend. Arizona will be better, then you get into league play."

Do you think they were good enough so that you could really judge your pitchers?
"Yeah, I think so. The biggest thing I wanted to judge about our pitchers this first weekend was who can compete and who will throw strikes."

You were pretty nervous about your pitching going into this first weekend.
"And I still am because each weekend is going to get tougher and tougher. But it was a great start for our guys. And we still have a lot of guys that we haven't thrown. I wanted to get (true frshman) Matt Lea in the game, but it didn't happen."

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

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