State faces another challenge with Poche'

Staff Writer

There is good news and there is bad news for Mississippi State following Thursday night’s 3-1 loss to LSU at Dudy Noble Field.
The good news is the Bulldogs won’t have to deal with Tigers ace Alex Lange anymore this weekend after Lange dominated the MSU lineup for seven innings Thursday. The bad news is the Bulldogs’ road to claiming a piece of the Southeastern Conference Western Division title gets no smoother Friday as LSU sends stellar senior left-hander Jared Poche' to the mound.
“Those two guys are equally successful, but they go about it different ways,” MSU first-year head coach Andy Cannizaro said of Lange and Poche'. “They have the same makeup and same competitive drive and same I’m-not-going-to-let-you-beat-me competitive nature. (Poche') is going to have less velocity (than Lange). It’s not going to be mid-90s with a power breaking ball, but it’s going to be a guy that throws strikes and competes and gives his team a chance to win. We certainly will have our hands full (Friday).”
For State to have any chance to win a share of the West this weekend, the Bulldogs must win the next two games, in addition to getting help in the form of one Texas A&M win over Arkansas. The Bulldogs will have to find more offensive success against Poche' than they did against Lange for that scenario to unfold.
Lange allowed just six hits and struck out 11 MSU hitters in his seven innings of work on Thursday.
“Alex Lange is phenomenal,” Cannizaro said. “You’re not going to go out there and bang that guy for 15 hits and 10 runs.
“Somebody has to step up to the plate and get a big hit. We weren’t able to do that (Thursday) and that was ultimately the difference in the ballgame.”
The hits might not come any easier against Poche'. Opponents are batting just .231 this season against the southpaw.
MSU junior shortstop Ryan Gridley has faced Poche' before, so he knows the test that awaits the Bulldogs.
“(Poche) has breaking balls that he’ll run up there the first pitch of the game,” Gridley said. “I’ve seen him for two years now. He’s a fantastic pitcher. He’ll dot his pitches just like Lange does, but he’s got a different repertoire.”
If Gridley and the Bulldogs can knock off Poche, it’ll set up a critical rubber game in this three-game series at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Bulldogs are planning on that happening, despite things not going their way on Thursday.
“All we needed to do is come out here and win two ballgames this weekend,” Cannizaro said. “We take them day by day. By losing the first battle, that hasn’t cost us anything.
“We have to come out (Friday), get after Jared Poche' and play at a really high level and see if we can’t get a big win. If we do, that sets up the very last day of the regular season with a chance to win the SEC West. What else can you ask for?”