Wild Thing

STARKVILLE - Before his team tacked on five runs in the top half of the fifth inning, Aaron Barrett was hoping to forget Saturday's muggy, wet night inside Polk-Dement Stadium.

The senior right-hander, his own worst enemy in the second of a three-game series against in-state rival Mississippi State, had given up five runs, four earned, on just two hits in 3.2 innings pitched.

He battled command all night, with three walks, three hit-by-pitches and five wild pitches.

"It's just one of those days," Barrett said. "At times, it really felt like I couldn't find the zone. More mentally than anything. Physically, I felt great. The ball was coming out of my hand great. But control-wise, the ball was flying out of my hand."

Barrett was uncharacteristically wild Saturday, though his teammates let him off the hook with 10 runs over the final five innings.

Aaron Barrett

He entered the game with a 6-2 record and 3.36 ERA. Opponents were batting a meager .231 against him, with 71 strikeouts to only 25 walks.

However, he channeled his inner Ricky Vaughn against the Bulldogs, with his mid-90s fastball skipping by batterymate, Taylor Hightower.

His off-speed stuff wasn't much better, especially when Bulldog leadoff man Nick Vickerson used a two-RBI double to chase Barrett from the game.

"You just got to get off the mound and take a deep breath and control it better than I did," Barrett said. "But tomorrow's a new day. I'll be ready to pitch next Saturday."

The conditions, from a water-collecting centerfield to a soggy infield, didn't help matters. But Barrett refused to make excuses for his performance in postgame interviews. Quite the opposite, actually.

"You can't really control the weather," he said. "I'm not going to make excuses and say the weather bothered me. It was just one of those humid days and the other team had to play in those same conditions. It was just one of those days where I couldn't really find it."

Barrett compared the start to his eight-run, 11-hit loss to South Carolina April 17, arguably his worst of the year. Coincidentally, he lasted only 3.2 innings against the Gamecocks, with no walks and three strikeouts.

Rory McKean and Matt Crouse followed Barrett on the hill, but had their struggles, as well. Each lasted a mere 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs.

Trent Rothlin, who entered the night with a 4.58 ERA and a 3-4 record, was the stabilizer. The junior college transfer allowed no runs in three innings of work, faced the minimum, while striking out five and walking none.

"Trent Rothlin really pitched his (butt) off tonight," Barrett said. "He kept us in the ballgame."

Head coach Mike Bianco agreed that Barrett didn't have best stuff.

"Just not sharp tonight," Bianco said of Barrett. "One of those where there were too many base runners. The way we were scoring, if he could've found a rhythm and got back into it, he would have been alright. Barrett's stuff is so electric. The good news is he handled it. He came out and we had a shot, even with (his struggles)."

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