Brandon Woodruff is still working toward the weekend at Mississippi State.
After Wednesday's four-inning pitching performance during a 17-5 victory by the Bulldogs over Rhode Island at Dudy Noble Field, the Wheeler native realized there's more improvement that must be made.
Woodruff struck out the side in the first inning, but struggled with his control out of the stretch in the second frame and walked three batters.
He bounced back to set the side down in order in the third and fourth innings.
"The stretch really killed me," Woodruff said of the second inning. "I could have easily worked seven, but the stretch I need to work on that, so I'll do that this week in the bullpen and I'll get ready for my next outing."
Woodruff got a Tuesday start last week and earned the win in a 2-0 decision over Grambling, then was pushed ahead one day to move him closer to the weekend possibility in the future.
"I was good to go (Tuesday), but it was (the coaches) decision so I just made the best of it," Woodruff said.
MSU head coach John Cohen was impressed with the way Woodruff started the game against the Rams.
Woodruff could have gone deeper into the game if the pitch count had not caught up with him.
With four walks, Woodruff was at 70 pitches when he left in the fifth inning.
"I thought it was a real positive for him in a lot of different ways," Cohen said. "As the weather warms up, his command is going to come. He walked four guys, but thought it was a solid performance on his part.
"We'd rather him go 87 and 88 (miles per hour) and command the baseball, but (with) the stuff he was throwing up there in the first inning, if we can start to get five or six innings out of that, there's no question his stuff is weekend caliber stuff."
Woodruff knew he wasn't going to last long after having the tough second frame.
"In the second inning, I couldn't get it going out of the stretch at all," Woodruff said. "The third inning I knew I just had to calm down and pitch. Coach (Butch) Thompson said, 'you had better get these guys out quick or we are going to have to get you out,' so I just focused in and tried to make good pitches."
After Rhode Island took the lead in the second inning on an RBI single by Pat Fortunato, the Bulldogs came back to score four runs in the third on two hits. Tyler Fullerton and Alex Detz were issued bases-loaded walks to score runs and Derrick Armstrong had a two-run single.
The Rams closed the gap to 4-3 with a pair of runs on one hit in the fifth, then MSU scored four more runs in its half of the fifth with two more bases-loaded walks for RBI and two hit-by-pitches for runs.
The Bulldogs increased their advantage to 10-3 with a two-run triple by Sam Frost in the sixth, then broke the game open with seven runs on six hits in the seventh.
Rhode Island scratched out a pair of runs in the eighth inning.
Preston Brown, Ross Mitchell, Ben Bracewell, Myles Gentry and Trevor Fitts all followed Woodruff to the mound for MSU.
"I thought our bullpen did a real serviceable job in cold weather which is tough," Cohen said.
The Bulldogs generated 14 hits offensively with Adam Frazier and Alex Diaz getting three hits each.
MSU, which now has a record of 11-0, turns its attention to a four-game weekend series against Saint Joseph's. Friday's first game has been moved up to a 4 p.m. first pitch.
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