MSU's Brandon Woodruff pitches in the first inning against Central Arkansas Tuesday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Central Arkansas Bears entered Polk-Dement Stadium on Tuesday night for the final non-conference game of the regular season and they left with a 2-0 shutout win over Mississippi State.
Central Arkansas (23-26) came into the game as the best hitting team in the Southland Conference which was enough to give State (31-21) reason for concern. However, no matter how much they were reminded of the importance of this game, the Bulldogs simply didnâ€™t come to play in the eyes of their head coach.
â€śThe heart rates in that dugout over there are pretty excited about being here and our kids just arenâ€™t,â€ť said MSU head coach John Cohen. â€śThis is very serious for them, and it should be. Iâ€™ve been in that dugout when I was at Northwestern State and going to play LSU and Arkansas in the middle of the week. This is their world series. They were fired up to play and our kids didnâ€™t meet that challenge. Thatâ€™s a credit to them.â€ť
The shutout marks the first time in the Cohen era and first time since 2004 that the Bulldogs were blanked by a non-conference foe.
Brandon Woodruff earned the start for State and picked up his second loss of the season after going four innings and allowing one run on five hits. Out of the bullpen, the Bulldogs used four hurlers who combined to allowed on run on three hits, including 2 1/3 innings from Ben Bracewell who struck out four of the seven batters he faced.
â€śBennie came in and threw really well,â€ť said Cohen. â€śHe was a little hesitant in the pen but when he got underway in the game, I thought he pitched really well.â€ť
At the plate, State scratched out seven hits with Adam Frazier going 3-for-3 for the night and Hunter Renfroe picking up a pair of singles in four plate appearances. Also for the game, no Bulldog reached second base.
â€śYou donâ€™t want to lose ever, but hopefully we can turn this situation into something positive for Thursday,â€ť Cohen said.
Mississippi State opens a three-game series with the Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday evening, the regular season finale for the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky enters the contest. much like MSU, having lost their midweek matchup with Murray State 7-3.
First pitch on Thursday night is set for 6:30 p.m. at Dudy Noble Field.
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